Sunday, March 25, 2007

To Write

I have a poets words but not a poets bravery
Miles of paper inked with my heart in drawers hidden from the eye,
I turn to these blank pages for peace and watch as they save me

In stacks of red leather, embroidered flowers, flip book, composition black and white
My gift stands untouched and unjudged by the world
There in their pages exists a reserve of warmth, power, spite, love and anger

Emotions so strong they are indescribable
At night I lay in prayer hoping that my children never feel this level of pain
Only to wake and believe this level of love is the genetic gift I am born to pass down

Verses so caged they fight against the societally trained walls of my being
Then my heart opens, purges and flys
Allowing my words to glide at such altitudes I swear they summon rain

I stand in the mist of their tribal call feeling purified
Moments of bliss surrounded by the freedom of letting go, drenched in my own song
Only to watch the world and the pieces it tries to take from me while I seek my redemption

I kneel to rebuild with logic and rationale a concerete prison of loneliness
Feeling the severing of my soul as I withdrawl from the world I usually jump to paint
And there with bruised knees and bruised heart I wait to heal myself again

Tears streaming down my exhausted face

Sunday, March 11, 2007

A Youth Workers Verse

I ask you with my embrace to allow me to be a part of your family and only after years of consistency do you allow me to hold the space
Foreign – the practice of allowing the outside in
Frightening – the thought of breaking the character you have to wear as a survival system
Peaceful – the first moments after your first extension of faith

In your silence I hear you screaming for me to listen to your story
You sit still and unmoving
Any movement will break the massive efforts it has taken you to control emotion
You pull up your sweatshirt hoodie as if it were armor made of steel
Watching you, I see it is

You are coming to me from a life-time of training
A world that tells you being a man is never letting you break
16 years of learning from women, peers and TV how to be men
And here I am, yet another woman, hoping to be here for you, when what you need is a man

I ask you to let go of the anger, allow me to help you ease it from your tight grasp
Frustration – the confusion of not even knowing how to get there
Anger – the thoughts of verbal assault other people in your life do not hesitate to dish out
Hope – the thought that maybe, just maybe, you will find a way through this time

In your silence I hear you screaming for me to listen to your story
You sit still and unmoving
Any movement will break the massive efforts it has taken you to control emotion
You arch your eyebrows and pout your lips, hand on your hips, attitude, hardening, as if it were armor made of steel
Watching you, I see it is

You are coming to me from a life-time of training
A world that tells you being a woman means ingesting every insult hurled at you as if it were truth and then hurdling it back at light speed
16 years of learning from men, peers and TV how to be a woman
And here I am, yet another woman, hoping to be here for you, when what you need is a mother you can dialogue with

I ask you to believe me when I tell you how beautiful you are
Frustration – the confusion of not even knowing how to get there
Anger – the thoughts of verbal assault other people in your life do not hesitate to dish out
Hope – the thought that maybe, just maybe, you will find a way through this time

In your tears and your laughter I hear as you share with me your story
You stand and invite me in
Your movement breaks the massive efforts it has taken you to control emotion and a child reappears in the place of your pain
You start to believe in your strength the way I do, as if it were armor made of steel
Watching you, I see it is

You ask me with a tentative fear, will it always be this hard.

My heart fills with empathy, wishing I could make lifetime guarantees

I ask you with my embrace to allow me to be a part of your family and after years of consistency you allow me to hold the space

Tongues Curl and Give Birth To Words and Worlds

I cannot take credit for the title of my entry. It belongs to a young poet from Oakland, CA. When I heard it last night at the Youth Speaks Poetry Slam Semi-Finals, I decided it had to be repeated everywhere. I wish I would have brought a notebook and taken down the many phrases that touched my heart last night. The night was so blessed in so many ways. I really have to hand it to that organization. The work they do is so vital to the survival of young people. Giving them a mechanism to express themselves is key to any child/person so full of emotion, they have no idea what to do. Learning to do that, is like learning to breathe. So as I breathe out last nights emotions, know that I am one of the lucky ones. Knowing how to write, having this random piece of cyber space as my forum keeps me centered. Because letting go of these words is nothing short of reclaiming life.

I invited three of my old students to come with me to this Poetry Slam last night. I was well aware of how difficult the week had been for them. You see they were informed this week that three more people from the after-school program I used to direct were quitting. With these particular three, I knew what a devastating loss it would be and I wanted time with them. I'm not sure if I wanted that time to help them process it or if I wanted it to just be able to give them a piece of my heart and time so that the four of us could enjoy each other.

My idea was that we would have dinner together, like a family, go to this slam, Twin Peaks, and then I would take them home. They each brought a side dish with them and I provided main course and a couple of other odds and ends. When I picked the two boys up, there was this odd mix of happy and awkward. This was interesting, because in all the time I had known these two particular boys, even in the beginning, there was never any awkwardness. I let it ride out as we drove up to the city, chalking it up to hunger. Yet as the hour passed and we reached my apartment, their emotion became thicker, yet what they were telling me was more and more sickly sweet. Unable to allow my time with them to be false, I said to them "Listen, I know that this week sucked. If you want to tell me that it sucked, if you want to tell me that you are mad at us, if you want to sit here and be silent; all of that is okay with me. But please don't sit here and try to put up Disneyland for my benefit. I can feel the hurt in you right now and it's louder than what you are saying to me."

Then it came, the emotions, the ones that I became accostumed to receiving every day while I was there. One of the boys started explaining to me how frustrated he was with the verbal abuse he was experiencing at home. The more he spoke, the closer he came to his voice breaking, until tears streamed hot and fast down his face. The young woman nodding her head in agreement in emotions I could tell they hadn't expressed in some time. As I watched him release, I watched the other young man shut down. The fear of breaking radiated off of him palpably. Even his body turned slowly away from the dinner table. He put the hood up on his sweatshirt. Like a turtle, I could see him retreating into his shell. All of it spoke volumes. I told them how much I loved them, how much it hurt me to see them being this hurt. But I knew at that point, the way you know, that your words will do nothing to resonate in the situation. There was too much hurt for words to heal any single part of this. I got up. Put my hand on the shoulder of the first young man and then asked the second young man if I could hug him. This 16 year old boy got up from his chair and in that moment he wasn't a tough teenager anymore, he was a kid. A kid who desperately needed love. He hugged me with such warmth and need that it hurt my heart. I asked the other young man to stand up and join us and both of them stood there in my kitchen, holding me and each other, tears spilling down there cheeks but managing not to fully cry.

I think the first young man and the young woman were aware of how much more the second young man needed a conversation. Soon after they busied themselves cleaning the kitchen and the young woman eyed and the second young man, silently asking me to talk him through this.

In my living room we sat there and he finally spoke the words that made the pain so much more relevant to him and really all of them this particular week. "It's just, its the same way for me that it is for him. It's that way for all of us. But before it was like, my mom or whomever would yell and call me a piece of shit, but when I got to College Track, it was different. I didn't have a mom that told me she was proud of me or that told me she loved me and stuff. But I had ya'll. And now there is no one there. And I want the services and stuff, but the other stuff was more important. Even walking in there is sad and hard for me right now. I wanna support you guys and tell you to do what you gotta do to be happy, but when you guys leave, my family leaves. That stuff, leaves."

And there it was, everything I was trying to articulate about why staff retention is important and quality of service being quality of heart. Better then I could have ever said it, this young man hit the nail on the head.

I was a little floored by how much space and room this created at that point for them to all be open. They spoke to me about everything after that, as a group and as individuals expressing to me what was good and bad in life right now. One of them said to me "I'm just afraid that I'm sensitive. It's like everything hurts me or makes me mad and no one else is that way." God I would never be a teenager again. I think that is why I am so dedicated to them. It's just so hard. I told him, its not about being sensitive, its about having a full cup of emotions. When its already full and getting a barrage every day, one more thing ends up overfilling the cup, it matters... a lot. When you know how to empty the cup, the world is a different place. He looked at me like this concept was relevatory. And we made a commitment to each other to learn how to empty his cup better.

The rest of the night was laughing and joy. There was good conversation. Activist conversation. Proclamations of changing the world. Silly singing and jokes being cracked on each other. It was FABULOUS. God I miss the kids. It was so nice to enjoy them outside of it being my job. It was different and good in a way that words struggle to articulate. Ironic when the night was really about the power of words.

We need to find ways to help us all express. Its a matter of survival. There is too much else to do for us to let emotional constipation be a block in the progress of the world.

Saturday, March 10, 2007


So I made the hottest decision yesterday when I got my Jetblue miles statement. Turns out the benefit to always traveling is getting the kind of miles that allow you to travel and it's quite conceivable for me to have a free plane ticket to Aruba by the end of the summer. Holy geez! I've been running and running for the last few years with little to no vacation that did not involve helping out a friend or org. I am ready to sit my ass on a beach and ask a cabana boy to get me a Mai Tai. Wahoo. I will schedule it at the end of the workshop/volunteer season and use it as the FIRST leg of a longer vacation. I swear to you, it makes the heavy lift I'm about to run all the more conceivable and exciting for me. Wahoo!

Anyone is invited to join, though I can't promise you I will do more then sit on a beach, read a book, dance and hike.

Thank you for my vacation going friends that have inspired in me the want to chill the hell out. I swear to you, I am gonna do what you guys have been requesting that I do for myself for years. I love you for so many reasons and among them, caring for me so much. Must go purchase a beach boys song now to keep me inspired! haha.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Don't delay, rebel

As a side note before I write my entry for the night, a friend of mine told me I was like Carrie Bradshaw tonight but instead of naming my writing "Sex and the City", I should call it "Action and the Community". That gave me a little chuckle, thought it might do the same for some of you.

Tonight I got the priviledge of a family ticket to an awards banquet for an old student of mine. Its totally humbling you know, when a kid takes one of five tickets given for a ceremony and asks you to be their family for the night. My babies are soooo talented. I mean amazingly, infinitely talented. That is why tonight, I sat in a room honoring one of them for getting a community service scholarship. She was one of the higher end prizes, a $5,000 scholarship. And it meant a lot to me to watch as she beamed, knowing what she brought together.

I was standing there talking to an old co-worker (also invited by another student) and all of a sudden I feel arms swing around me. I see this young woman, whom I've had the priviledge of knowing since she was a child of 14. Tears in her eyes, and she's telling me how much she loves and misses me. Its funny what wells of emotion feel like.

Have you ever been to the gulf of mexico? I've only been once when I was a little kid. So my perspective is that of a really young child. It was a really surreal water experience. It's like your stepping into the ocean, but when you get in, its so warm. And it laps against your legs and makes you feel comfortable and excited at the same time. Everything I had been conditioned to with the ocean was always to brace yourself for the shock of cold. But in the Gulf, you get the exhiliration of the ocean, with the comfort of warmth.

Standing there with Wendy felt like swimming in the gulf. I know that sounds weird as far as metaphors go, but it is what it is. I had always been taught that outward displays of emotion equated weakness. This made home really tough, because I'm an emotional girl by birth. It never worked to suppress it, it just served to create in me a standard I could never meet. In working with the, its a little over 1,000 now, students I've worked with, I have learned the importance of swimming in the gulf. But I digress.

I sat in a room where 27 teenagers were getting awards for working to heal the community. My awe in them is still present as I type this. I love that young people care so much. And really, they all do. Even the ones that say they don't care, only say they don't care because caring as much as they do is frightening for them. You teach our young how to put up a fight, and a fight you'll get. You teach them how to learn and engage and you will get community leaders.

This teen tonight said something along the lines of seeing something that talked about how if you had all the kids in China jump at the same time. It would throw the world off it's axis. He said he hoped that they were all jumping so hard that the world would be rocked by them too. And I felt it, I felt the axis tip. I saw hope. No tatoo, black clothes, goth makeup, picket sign, piercing, bald head, alcoholic binge, sexual exploit, or screaming match is a bigger act of rebelion then what those kids put in one room tonight.

I left inspired and ready to work for change again.

We don't have time to waste guys, rebel.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Dear CT Babies...

To my dearest babies,

It's funny that I still call you all my babies. The truth of the matter is all of you are grown enough to know life more then most adults I have ever met. Your strength far surpasses anything anyone could ever conceive. I dream of days when people know your greatness. You are my picket line and my civil rights movement. Investing in you, is investing in miracles and change. Know that even today, as I do my work, you are my inspiration to fight hard for what your generation deserves.

I know that today was hard for all of you. I wish there was a way I could be there to hug you and let you know it was okay. Last night, I had a hard time sleeping thinking about the news you were going to hear today, anticipating your reaction and your hurt. Not being there to hold you while you heard the news that another one of us was to leave you. I racked my brain for ways to be there for you, this letter, was the best I could do.

I know this year has been blow after blow for you. I respect the steadfastness that you've had to approach your education with, as adults you had become accostumed to leaning on fade into memories. How it has hurt me to see you have to recover from the loss of each.

Then I woke up this morning and I looked out my window and I thought, "its like everything else. They are going to be okay, they have each other." Guys, as staff, we are the icing to the cake. That place, can have a ton of different people running the services because you are the absolute heart of College Track. You show anyone who walks through those doors just how deserving you are of everything. Hearing from the staff how you created the Brotherhood and Sisterhood groups after I left, I felt such pride in you. In the value that you chose to place in each other. I thank you for making it work. Thank you for keeping the heart of that place pumping and knowing how important that is.

I honor how hard this time period is, I know that it comes with its share of struggle. But struggle teaches you something. It gives you the fundamentals for getting back up and continuing the fight. In honoring this time, I must also honor you. I wouldn't be doing that if I didn't give you this feedback.

It does not matter who gives them or where you get the services guys, but get them. You deserve your college education. You deserve the doors it will open for you. You will have freedom in ways I can barely show you right now. If I could stand in front of you and have you feel what life looks like on this end, how beautiful it is to have this piece of me, no one can take away, I would never have to fight any of you to study hard for any test. This is a story in the book but it is not the entire book. You still have a ton of chapters to write.

This is YOUR civil rights movement. It isn't flashy, its fought with text books instead of picket signs, equations instead of sit-ins, but it is just as if not MORE important to the betterment of all of us.

We do not have time for you to not become a fighter on the front lines fully armed with the weapon of your academic arsenal. There is too much that needs to be changed to lose even one of you. You are capable. You were capable before us, you will be capable long after. I challenge you to look at what you need to make happen to make it through this transition. Do not let this turn into an excuse. You are among the chosen and you are the chosen for a reason. Your talents, your intelligence and your hearts are life saving. And as I know you all know, there are lives to save.

I love and miss you. Keep going my darlings. You are not from the mid, the g, the vill, the flooda, MP, Redwood, MA, Sequoia, Woodside or Carlmont. You are from your own ABSOLUTE greatness. There are no neighborhood or school divisions to that. You must fulfill the promise of that greatness and get the tools to be unstoppable. Going to college is a huge part of that. Do NOT give up the fight. We do not have the time for you to waste any of it.

We need you. Keep going.

All my love, admiration and esteem,


Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Happy Re-Birthday Rey and Regsy Begsy

It's crazy the events that alter and shape your life. Five years ago two of my friends had a life altering experience that sent ripples into the lives of everyone. The night of the accident is one that will not soon be forgotten by any one of us. The aftermath was a testament to the friendship and love that existed and exists between all of us.

Rey and Regs,

You've been an absolute inspiration. Watching how you put your lives back together, became even stronger, took on even more challenge and worked to help others live life to the fullest continues to touch me. Your experience would have folded other people and it doubled you. It was and is an honor to be your friend. I thank God everyday that he spared you. Your contributions to the world are phenomenal. I honor every uphill battle you've climbed to reclaim your lives both emotionally and physically.

I love you,


The Pink Martini Glass

So today was a long day and that means it will be a long post. For those of you that choose to stick around, settle in.

I have a bar in my house. Yup, a bar. Fully stocked. Important asset of my kitchen. Makes the kitchen pop really. I won this bar on the Price is Right. Yup, the Price is Right. Bob Barker had me on contestants row. Rod Rodey, may he rest in peace, called my name. And there I went, bouncy, 21, and in pigtails. Totally happy, shocked and surprised until right there on national television some jack ass bid a dollar above me and I gave an on camera dirty look to my right. However, the door prize was a bar, and every 21 year old should be so lucky to get a bar on their 21st birthday. About 4 years ago when I first moved to the city and learned what hard work days were, I bought a martini-set for this bar. I replaced one glass in that martini set with a delicate pink martini glass. Because damnit, on a hard day, I was going to treat myself to a martini in a pink glass, that would be my reward to myself. Now, in terms of rating tough days, they run the gammut. They go from water to beer to martini(regular glass) to martini(pink, thought I like to call it blush, glass) for a number of reasons. I'm sitting here friends, with my blush martini glass. But it feels kinda silly. Like the day didn't really deserve one, but I just gave into feeling like it was a bad day.

My brain went from thought to thought to thought and the stream of conciousness was exhausting. Today I felt like a little girl. Just young and naive that I allow for my heart to experience such sadness. You see I started out by thinking about the man I encountered in the morning. Waves of what I called sadness in the last blog entry, but really it was more of an overwhelming weight of how much work was left to do. Even to just get people to pay attention to people who are screaming top of lungs for help. I didn't even want to talk about it at work, I felt like it would undue the deed if I did. Like there was something sacred and personal that I shared with this man by buying him a meal and speaking to my co-workers about it would be more for affirmation of my person than helping him. And today, what I did was a personal choice.

Then I hopped into thinking about my uncle. About his path and the role that I have played in my family and asking myself what kind of role I should play. Having the gifts I have, quite honestly, it is very few and far in between times that I have stretched back to them. It is a cause of unease, but I also don't feel positioned to provide healing in the way I do in other places. But is that undercutting my ability to make excuses. What ownership do I carry for the lack of healing in my family. What role do I play in that cycle having gotten out and really gotten out. Argh, here I go again. Anyway. I sat at work churning through things, missing my students, feeling a little guilt. Trying to take the weight away. I gave up insulting myself for Lent and ultimately I don't believe in victimization, so why would I go there with myself.

Then I started to think about how I am with men. Because when I think about the men in my family, I think about the men I've had in my life. There is of course close correlations. A while back, Jeremiah taught me this paradigm of thought. Victim, Aggressor, Rescuer. It's just different ways of instinctual being. People rarely do just one, but they often veer more to one category. I was figuring out today that I'm phobic of the aggressor/victim (ie daddy), but at the same time, he's the man I have dated. The aggressor/victim is the guy that kinda bulldozes his way in with all his issues. Then I sit there and try to sort through them in an attempt to be loved for what I can do. I could beat around the bush, and sugar coat it, but thats been my pattern.

My male friends, they are more the rescuer/victim guys. They find the broken girls and try and fix them or at least try and have sex with them. Until they get so tired of the fixing or the sex (because though straight men will never admit it, they get tired of empty sex, its only novel for so long), they give up or they get tired of dealing with it... like they didn't seek it out. You see in the triangle of behavior, the way you respond to the world depends on what you've gotten result from. The men I know are amazingly good. Just the most fantastic beings, I'm so blessed. The level of comfort, protection, insight, intelligence and humility is just far beyond what most women get to know and see, and for that I'm grateful. But in the tradition of men are dumb and girls are crazy. You fill in the blank. They make me laugh though, and I love them for that.

I gotta tell you. I miss having straight guy friends around. I love my gay guy friends, don't get me wrong, so much of me has been uplifted and cared for by these men. But the one's that I have in my life, I've assisted through some of the tougher times in their levels of personal security. I'm the protector. In the same way I protect most people in my life. (Rescuer/Victim) Most of my straight male friends live on the east coast. When I'm out there, it is so nice to receive that perspective. To have conversations with the dudes. In both the depth and shallowness of it. I find that the men in my life do not censor themselves around me. I get to hear the undoctored for women truth about how they think, feel, act, its raw and lude sometimes, but its comforting to be around a lack of bullshit pretense in that way. It's hysterical too. I don't have guys out here like that. I miss it.

I rounded out my night with sets of tears. One adult, two teens. I just sat on the phone and listened and prodded. Most of it silence, a lot of hurt. I can't really talk about it yet, I will eventually, I can't right now. It was just hard to be far from some people that I love that I know need me right now. I wish I could provide the comfort of my embrace to them and its just not what is possible or even healthy right now. As I listened to them, I felt the trueness of how futile it is to try and protect people from life. It's life and it just bites sometimes. You can't change that, you just prepare people to handle tough.

So thats why, when I came home today and sat down with my pink martini glass, all I wanted was a hug. I wanted to know that someone understood that though I can't change everything in the world right now, eventually, I got it in me to make some major changes. Someone that could tell me, "yo, its gonna be alright Karla, don't trip for too long." That though I beat myself up for half the day, I was making strides in the right direction.

Maybe this is the point to this time period in my life. It should be about me giving that to me. Which is why the blush martini glass exists. I'm dating myself, ;c), giving myself all the things that I used to wait for someone else to give me. But it was never enough that way. I knew that then, I know it now. You learn little by little how to empty the cup. How to not be heavy. I've spent my life teaching other people how to do it, but I never learned to do it for myself. And its okay that on a week when your closest friends are out of the country and you have a hard day, you struggle with the emptying process. Doesn't make the need for a blush martini glass any less necessary or wrong. Repeating to myself "I'm not a bad person. I'm not a selfish person." isn't enough anymore either. It's other levels. It's time to accept who I am and breathe through that. Feel okay with the weight of the day, knowing tomorrow will be different.

Monday, March 05, 2007

His Cries Were So Deep...

He was crying too hard for me to ignore him.

I was coming into work, laptop in hand, mildly heated at the problems I am having with a small "fix-it-ticket" about my address. I had just become a woman my mom would be disappointed in by dropping off my laundry at a "Wash and Fold" type establishment. After trying to get to washing clothes all weekend, I gave up the ghost and dropped it off for someone else to do it for me. So I was in the middle of thoughts about how malfunctional our legal system is (who has to go to traffic court in Redwood City for an address change and then get turned away and told to come back) and how malfunctional I am for not being able to do my own dang laundry and the variety of things my mom would say about it, when I heard a man on the street sobbing.

It seemed so normal for everyone, walking to work, ignoring the bum on the corner. I have to tell you, I do it too. But his crying. It was earth shaking. Just deep and painful. He wasn't asking for money, but he was crying about how hungry he was. I felt a lump in my throat as I watched how accostumed we've all become to this. I wanted to shout for the world to pay attention, ask them if they see how much work has to be done. Instead I approached him and asked him to come with me to Subway.

He kept asking me if I wanted to share his sub with him. It broke my heart.

All I could think of was my uncle. The one whose death I so brazenly hardened against because of how his drug use affected our family. Last year when they told me they found him on the side of the road, the tears I shed were minimal and I pushed it all to the back of my mind. Now I reflect on all the pain that he was in and I wonder if he ever begged anyone for food and if they ignored him on the street. It doesn't take away from the hurt he caused because of his sickness but I really do sit here praying he never found himself that alone.

The man kept thanking me. I wanted to give him sustance but I didn't want to cry in front of him or act all bountiful. I mean really, its humiliating enough to ask people for food, you don't need their condecension. I gave him directions to GLIDE, a church I know has an excellent homeless program that helps people get back on their feet and I left him with his tuna sub, tuna melt, chips, soda and brownie. He kept making the sign of the cross when he thought I wasn't looking and he blushed scarlett the entire time he accepted the meal.

I'm not special or a great person. I have quite a few friends that have done something similar, if not bigger, in the last month. It's what we do when one persons eyes/story/heart/face reach you in a way you can't turn away from. But I need to do more. God let me find solutions. The world shouldn't be like this. Not with so many of us doing well. That is my prayer for the day, let me find sustainable, scalable, empowering solutions. That and let my uncle be at peace wherever he may be.

The End Up and Tim'm

So here goes reason number 798 for loving San Francisco. The End Up.

My friend Tim'm was in town tonight, a one night engagement out of DC. You see, he's the baddest mofo you'll ever know. Amazing writer, lyricist, spoken word poet, activist, artist, jock, facilitator, rapper, you name it, Tim'm does it. In fact, you can catch him on a PBS documentary circling around called "Independent Lens: Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes." He is such talent and light. In fact he was just at Humboldt state as a keynote speaker, panelist, guest lecturer and performer. (Check out his music at And he did all of that in two days and managed to get my butt out of my house on Sunday night to go to The End Up.

So I've heard about this place on a number of occasions and never went. I was pleasantly surprised to find one of the most diverse clubs I have been in since I moved here. And by diverse I mean people from 21 to 55, White, POC, gay, straight and everything in between. Not to mention that it was dropping everything from gospel to latin to R&B with Drum n Bass backing. It was rockin.

I love dancing. I really do. I remember watching this Oprah interview with Michael Jackson when I was a kid . She asked him why he grabbed his crotch when he performed, he said to her "I don't do it, its what the music asks me to do." Now though I love Michael, I thought then, as I do now, that he was a freak. But I really can see his point in that particular matter. It's crazy what it feels like to just move to the rhythm and beat of an artists soul. It's connection. Sensual, peaceful, energizing, joy and connection. And tonight, with Tim'm and another good guy friend, we danced and let ourselves be free. I'm so glad the joy of dancing is returning for me. I missed it. Of all the things the assault robbed me of, that was a deep loss. It's great to feel that freedom to go forward more and more.

In ANYevent, check out the End Up and my pal Tim'm. Both are worth the price of admission and then some.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

An Hours Worth of Thought

So I sat down to think of the things that I heard today. I would really appreciate feedback from anyone willing to give it.

I come to the same conclusions over and over again about this one. I'm a little stuck.

I believe transition times are times of much acknowledgement and much scorn. For me, in this time, I've recieved some of the most beautiful compliments I've ever had. I've had people of all ages tell me the impact I have had on their lives. How grateful they are to have been near me and my heart.

I guess my question is how do you accept what people say, not take away from the emotions around all of it, let yourself soak in your contribution to the world and keep your humility. I mean, doesn't it sound obnoxious to be all "Ya, I rock." haha. It's just so foreign to me. I mean I have some horrible habits around it. It used to be when people gave me that, I would think in my head, if I had assisted in the "right" way, they would realize they changed their own lives and really did it all themselves. Then I would start to tear myself down. I know that this peice is just personal decimation. There is no reason for me to take it there. I refuse to be that dysfunctional. There was a time when I allowed this of myself, but that time has passed.

And I mean, I'm lucky, of all the things to be conflicted about, this one, not so bad. But my humility means something to me. It's an important part of my empathy. I see such wonderful freakin amazingness in the world. I'm humbled I'm allowed to be a part of people's hearts that way. It's an innate part of who I am.

At base however, I've always encouraged others to own their own power. I firmly believe that you cannot make change running from your own greatness. I've watched others struggle with it and underrating yourself does as Marianne Williamson so eloquently put it "does not serve the world... as we let our own light shine, we unconciously give others permission to do the same." Which is I think one of the best quotes ever, so how? How do you do it and keep that part of you that knows there is always more growing and work to be done. Any thoughts?

A Year Later

bout a year ago, on an excavation of College Track history, I accessed one of the first staff members to see how deeply ingrained some of historical practices were. By the end of the meeting I had found someone who was totally willing to mentor and collaborate with me. I remember leaving that brunch by the ocean with this sense of "Oh wow, some people are just good." and ever grateful that someone showed me a personal map.

A year later I sit down with the same young woman, I'm in a completely different place in life. It was great to bounce ideas off of her and get her perspective. She is truly a pioneer in self-care for women of color. It was that same crazy feeling of wow, someone gets it.

She said some things today that were incredibly flattering but ultimately scary, haha. She said she was proud of the place I was in, that I would have never made it in the situation I had been in personally and professionally a year ago. She said that it was a turning point for me and that it was important because I'm the kind of person that makes change at the level that makes it into history books. That I had made indelible impressions on the lives of my students and that she was happy I chose to show myself more love. It was necessary to get to the place I am routed for.

So ya, scary. She impressed on me the seriousness of release and fun. And we both summed it up with a declaration of having a lot of work to do to change the world around us. Such a trip. Oh the healer and the change maker, just such interesting ways of being.

Pssst... Go to Twin Peaks

So I have a secret. A lame and odd secret, but a secret all the same. I've had a few margaritas (not drunk by any means, but I knocked a couple back) so it seems like an opportune time to write my secret out. haha.

...So I'll go up to twin peaks at Sunset and ask families and tourist if they want me to take a full family picture. I know I am a LAME ODD individual for that secret, but for real, thats what I do. I haven't done it once, I've done it almost dozen times. I went and did it today. Oh for shame. I love it. lol.

I love going up to Twin Peaks when the sun is setting. It's just fantastic. It's high tourist time, but the light on the buildings down town is magnificent. Beautiful in a way that is hard to describe if you haven't seen it. The sun, it gets even brighter at sunset. Like it won't go down without a fight. It's orange glow goes on about 75% of the downtown building and everything else in the city looks hues of purple and gold. The light is great for pictures and it never fails that sets of toursit are up there trying to take advantage. They are sitting there struggling with wanting to enjoy the sunset and wanting documented memory of it. I'll go up there, enjoy the first few seconds of it. Breathe it in. Then I'll walk around and ask families if they would like me to take a complete family picture. Their faces when I ask this are awesome. Like I'm fuckin Santa on Christmas morning. The light makes for perfect pictures that illuminate both families and buildings in clarity. They look so happy to get that record of their trip. There are time that they may be arguing, but after I take the picture, they are too happy to continue, instead they coo at their cute visage. haha.

I love twin peaks. It is SF for me. I read there, I think there, I walk around. It's a quiet place in the early mornings and late nights. But at sunset, it lets me be this low intensity, low effort, freak of nature that helps families have good San Francisco memories. Ande that it what I did toniight at sunset. I didn't end up going to this poetry slam I wanted to go to because I lingered there too long, but it was worth it. It made me happy. and I'm loving this whole happy thing.

Then I went home, took another shower, looked at my Haight earring purchases, got dressed and went out on my own. I had a couple of drinks (purchased for me by nice guys) at this place called La Rondalla, then I met up with a new friend (who is really. for lack of a better term, super cool), got hit on by a few guys, had one more drink and brought my ass home. And here I sit, content and outing my secret photo indulgences. Knowing what a nerd I am but loving that I am that nerd. Sweet dreams everyone. I hope your day was as sweet as mine.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Patchouli Mofo

Dear Patchouli Mofo,

So there should be a rule in San Francisco. If you drive a Z3, and are a jack ass, you shouldn't be allowed to troll the Haight cutting people off to get a parking spot. You also can't be driving that car and have dreads, wear hemp, puka shells and have the smell of patchouli covering up your funk. Listen mister holier than poser, BE NICE and let us Hyundai economy car drivers have the spots we've been circling 45 minutes for. I'm just tryin to go to my favorite earring store and get myself some kickin gear, I'm romancin myself and you are getting in my way. I believe it to be fraudulent for you to look so free love and to ultimately be a prick who cuts into my good mood. I'm sitting here dancing and singing Jerry Rivera/Salsa in my car. You are not allowed to intrude! I have a poetry slam to get to later that you are making me late for. So go and take your hypocritical lifestyle and park your car in the 10 dollar pay lot. Come on, lets be real. We both know you can afford it.

Thank you,

Grumpy LA Transplant

For Whom The Bells Toll

I didn't believe in the institution of marriage until I was 22. Wedding bells until that time were signs of a cool party but not much else.

I always saw marriage as an institution where the woman had to give up peices of herself in order to hold on to something we had been told would last forever. Compromises that were only made on one end to keep together a family. Because as women, being the strong light bearers we were, thats what we did.

I have this very vivid memory of sitting on some steps in front of our little apartment trying to get my dad to tell my mom "I love you" the way boys did for girls in the movies. He refused. I was young and reflecting on how awkward I made the situation for my mother, is still somewhat painful. "Come on daddy, just say it." And he sat there and refused as my mother watched his child beg him on her behalf to express a sentiment that I know came easily for her. I knew he loved her, I still know. For some reason, he just couldn't give her that tidbit. Yet stubborn I stood demanding that he say the words. Even then, I felt the hurt on her behalf. I remember putting my little hands on his face and trying to force his mouth to say the words. Afterward, I went to the bathroom and cried in a place my mom and dad couldn't see me, I couldn't understand why daddy was so mean. I was seven years old. For a long time I thought he was holding onto emotions like that because it gave him a power he couldn't relinquish. As an adult I realize its much less sinister than that. Not a lot of people openly expressed love to my dad before my mom, my brother and I. It takes practice. Until we showed him, he just didn't know.

I always liked the idea of a wedding, in the way little girls like the idea of big white dresses and parties. Even when I was shorter than an adult pant leg, I knew wedding and marriage were separate entities. And the latter, I thought was too painful an institution to participate in.

My head and my heart have always been at war with how to deal with them. I mean on one I hand I acknowledge I have wonderful parents. My father, with his inability to express, loved us the only way he knew how growing up. He would work 16/18 hour days and come in after bed time. I would stay awake with my eyes closed, just to feel him walk in the room and kiss my brother and mine's foreheads. My mom, has to be THE most loving woman you'll ever meet. Her warmth is unparalleled in this world and I do not believe that to be remotely an exageration.

We have the similar kinds of issues I imagine all families have. There is particular duress between me and my dad. A disconnet in personalities that goes from small to large in under 5 seconds flat. They had a lot of problems when we were younger and I played marriage counselor until about the age of 14 when in a car in front of a Mervyns, I told my mom that I wasn't her friend but her daughter and I wasn't sure I could handle it anymore. So I left the car feeling guilty that I was leaving my mom friendless and mad at my dad's inability to express anything emotionally.

All in all, they are much healthier now, but we have a divide and it leads to distance between the two of us. Their marriage is something that I respect but have never wanted to have. My mom was always translating him to the world explaining how good she believed his heart to be. Which on one hand, I appreciated as a sign of the resilience of love and on another despised because I felt like it was a really tiring way for my mom to always be living.

When I met Mark and Amy at 22, it was the first time I ever saw a marriage of mutual respect, friendship and passion. The way they regarded each other and even looked at each other made a believer out of the most anti-marriage individual. They talked things out, he went home because he wanted to be around her, they traveled together and shared hobbies to spend time with each other. They were that couple that you look at and can't quite figure it out. I mean you know they have ups and downs like any other couple but they love each other so much that its just a part of what their fighing for in their life together as a couple.

I moved out here on my own the year I met them and didn't really have anyone I knew. I had a boyfriend who cheated on me 6 months into my stay here and they got me drunk and took me home to their guest room where both of them treated me like their little sister. Mark got drunk with me because he said that no one drinks along on nights like that and Amy laughed, consoled and dressed me for bed later when I was too drunk to unsnap my own bra. Even sitting there, drunk and hurt in Mark's t-shirt, I watched as they hugged each other before they went to bed and I said to myselfr "They have it. It's possible and I won't settle for less then that." I am forever grateful that they showed me a template worth following.

Once I met them, I met a couple of other couples that have the same kind of relationships. Where the woman isn't always "the understanding one" translating her husband to the world. In these relationships I know they are partners not people who need to feign completeness for each other.

Last night as I watched another friend celebrate this kind of union. She looked resplendent, gorgeous, pregnant and glowing of new bride and new motherhood at the same time. I'm glad I get to see reinforcements of these unions all the time. I can't just defer to Mark and Amy as a fluke. If anything, I'm at the point that I realize that they should be more the rule than the exception even if they aren't. So I'm a convert. I'm starting to really accept, believe and be happy that its about more then a big expensive party. It's about big living and loving.

Cheers Cristel! Thank you for being another example to look to. Last night was fabulous and you deserve all the happiness in the world. I'm so happy that your baby gets to be loved the way I know you and Jon will love him. I'm open for baby-sitting if you need a nap or a moment. You two will be an amazing mom and dad.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Left to My Own Devices

Funny how you don't realize how much time you spend with people until you are planning our your week when they are on vacation. haha. So Bola, Alex and Rey are going on vacation extravaganzas. Spain, Barbados and Thailand respectively. Besides being totally jealous about not country hoppin with them. I'm just realizing how much time I spend with them on a week to week. haha. I mean we all have pretty jam packed lives. But we are integral parts of them. It's nice havin family here that way. Bola and Rey are truly my sisters. It's nice to have that unit.

Although I gotta admit, I'm a little excited about what I'll do with the time on my own. I think a road trip is definitely on the radar, maybe some time by myself in a very green area, movies, cafes, books in the park... the possibilities are endless. Send all suggestions to my Myspace Comments, most creative response to what to do with my time gets a prize! ;c)

I made a decision to take a super long vacation after workshop season. Guatemala here I come!

Peace be with you, and also with you

So writing is just this addiction lately, it's 2am here and my taxi gets here at 4:45am but I have to get the rest of this out...

I grew up in a Catholic household. This basically meant I respected God but didn't really visit with him but for a couple of rare occasions when my dad wasn't sleepy, grumpy or hungry on a Sunday morning. Now I love my father, but if you know him, you know how rarely I ever went to church. Still, to my dad, being anything other than Catholic was a betrayal to my great-grandmother, who in addition to riding with Pancho Villa, getting extradited from Mexico and bucking the "system" of the time period had many children (with different last names) down the Central American coast but never had a need for a man, was a devout Catholic. How you connect the radical with the religious, I'll never know. They say I'm a lot like her. I like that.

I'm a fairly spiritual person, I think regardless of religion, healers are bound to be. I have gone through stages and time periods where my religion means a lot to me. I have had two major breaks with my faith. Once when the first messenger/priest whom I really trusted violated an acquaintance and the second time with the assault its self. It is only now years later that I feel myself reconnecting. But I must admit, I am reconnecting to my spirituality, my connection to the world around me and the higher being that touches me so frequently, not a church.

I don't know how I feel about church. I think in theory, its wonderful. A place of love and worship and spirituality. But in practice it just becomes this weapon. I am not fond of weapons.

You see, I feel like the good relationships I know, there are things that are incredibly private. The pieces, tulmultuous or pleasurable, that are most sacred are not shared with the outside world. That in context of a relationship is incredibly respected. The tighter, intimate and more private the bond, the more I look on admiringly as a public. This is the way it should be.

So here is the disconnect for me, if your relationship with your God is the most intimate relationship you can have. Why would you ever be expected to honor it in the same way as your bretheren? Why is it up for public scrutiny how I choose to celebrate that partner? This relationship is mine and mine alone.

As I lay in this bed, sheets and comforter wrapped around my body, pillows propping me up, fingers typing, I get that I have been blessed. I share with you my blessing not to impose it or to have it judged but to let you know, I'm happy. It took me so long to get here, and there is no way that I could have done it alone. Who or what guided me, I don't know fully and without a shadow of a doubt. What divine prescence kept me safe, I can't for sure say. But the beauty of that safety is God's kiss to me. God's loving embrace. My spirit after all of the hurt, remains in one piece and if nothing else has grown in love and intensity. And again, I am happy. Perhaps for the first time in my life, I am learning to fall in love with myself. Thank God.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Laughing Out Loud for VDay

So I was writing this whole post on religion and God before. I was all about it. But then I went to go see my friend perform in the Vagina Monologues and talking about God after just wasn't/isn't the spot I'm in. haha.

ANYway, so tonight my wonderful, graceful, amazing, gal pal Jessica performed in the Vagina Monologues. I've been looking forward to this for a long time. To explain the significance of tonight I have to tell you about Jess.

You see Jess and I knew each other when we lived in this tore up two bedroom apartment with eight people and a hole in the wall in Alexandria, VA for close to 4 months. Our only decor in that apartment was a map of the DC Metro we stole one night, when all of us were out late/early. That 4 months, for all of its cramped one bathroom frustrations, was fantastic. It was living the way you live when you are 20 and are working in Non-Profit and figuring out the cheapest way to be young, have fun and survive.

I always have loved Jess. From the first time I met her, I found sisterhood in her ability to laugh just as loud as I did giving a rats ass who was watching. She's always had mad cool style, a great being, a peaceful nature, even at 20 she was just as graceful and individual as the woman she's grown into being.

So tonight as I sat there and watched my friend, I laughed loudly. This would not have been such a big deal, but its an open dress rehersal. There are literally 10 other people there. I have to be one of the only people laughing. So I giggle all the time, its a part of the person I am, but if you've ever seen me throw my head back and laugh with all the joy I got, its really... embarrassing for some people. Not me, but if I got company, I feel the need to warn people. haha. So as I sat there, flowers in hand, watching someone that I've known for years scream "CUNT" and "CONO" (Cunt in spanish but I don't know how to do a tilde on a PC) at the top of her lungs, and do a "Militant Bisexuals" orgasm. I can't help it. I was laughing hysterically.

There was such a reclamation in the play. An owning of female power that is just remarkable. And there I sat and watched my friend be a foot soldier in claiming it. Damn straight. We always knew it would be this way. Its wonderful watching her be exactly what she was always meant to be. This light of freedom. She's just a fuckin inspiration. There, in a room full of women, I felt absolutely beautiful. Words are powerful, and really, so are my friends.