Seattle, WA
Poet, blogger, lawyer, educator, sista, sister, aunt, daughter, mentor, friend, dog owner, lover of music and all things gluten free... Writing about all of this and more.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

My dad's playlist

Four years into driving my dad's car, I recently discovered several of his CDs. It's kind of embarrassing how long it took me to find them. They were in the multi-disc player in the glove compartment. The disc player was almost lodged shut and the button on the radio that enables you to play the CDs would not play anything, so I had always assumed that he had opted out of installing one. One day something led me to nearly break the sucker open. I don't know what it was. I was sure I was going to be left with a piece of plastic in my hand, but I just kept wedging the thing open. I guess I was just curious or bored or something.

Anyway, finally after what felt like several minutes it popped, then slid open, revealing 5 CDs in there. It felt like discovering a treasure map. Or a secret journal. A chance to experience something new about a man I had known all my life, and almost half of his, after almost four years of his physical absence. It felt like a little gift from him to me.

I didn't hit play for a couple weeks. I wasn't being dramatic about it... I just wanted to wait.

Then the Friday before Father's Day, I decided to hit play. The first song was Smokey Robinson and The Miracles, Tears of a Clown. I closed my eyes and imagined him singing the song. I can distinctly remember hearing him sing Al Green, I'm so Tired of Being Alone. So I just kind of changed the words. I could imagine what he would sound like--definitely not in tune, airy, higher in pitch than his speaking voice. It always made me laugh; not at him, but at the carefree state he--a generally serious and practical man--was in at the moment.

I listened to Smokey and imagined Dad and just enjoyed the thought of him. It was sunny outside and I had the windows down and the breeze was blowing through the car. I was in traffic downtown, which was awful, but I pictured what it would be like if this were a typical day in the life of Dad. At that very hour I'd probably be driving him from UW to KCTS9. We'd be driving through South Lake Union, the windows would be down, it would be quiet in the car unless I was chatty. It was a nice thought.

It was nice a nice feeling. Even though I felt the familiar burning of grief down in my gut, I didn't feel the darkness that often accompanies grief.

I realized, with gratitude, that I am in that part of grief that allows me to not sit in darkness. I am in that place that allows you to smile at your loved one, feel his presence, and even with tears in your eyes, just enjoy the music.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Fall in Love

"Nothing is more practical than finding God, than falling in love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, whom you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything." --Fr. Pedro Arrupe, SJ What/who are you in love with? Happy Valentine's Day!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Artist

Sometimes I feel awkward calling myself an artist... like I am posing. Like I am not quite committed enough or established enough to deserve that title. Nevermind that I've been writing short stories and fiction and poetry since I was a child, or that I've been performing my poetry for over a decade.

Sometimes I look at self-proclaimed artists and feel like they just go harder than I do. They look the part. Their friends are all self-proclaimed artists too. They're all deep and stuff, with their meditation and veganism and locs and yoga and their heavy arsenal of quotes from philosophers, poets, prophets and stuff.

But then it's funny because I may squirm when other people identify me as an artist, but the truth is that little light-bulb that turns on when I'm in the company of other creative people or when I'm exposed to some inspiring, beautiful thing--that light-bulb refuses to dim. Even through traumas like grad school and grief, and even when I've tried to focus on other things.

And why should it? After all, "artist" is like "African American" or "lawyer" or "short"--it's just a part of one's identity. And it really applies to anyone who does anything that inspires, enlightens, ignites controversy, sparks dialogue. Often times artists don't even realize that's what they are.

I was recently in the company of some beautiful, creative women who reminded me about what it is to be an artist. They reminded me that we all are artists, in one way or another. Then I remembered this poem I wrote back in law school... here she goes:

I am an artist
I am and art is
A risk to take
a fist to shake at convention
Politics
Romance
Reinvention
What is art if not the heart blood?
If not the spark plug,
If not the nutrients pulled from the roots of our imagination,
If not self-discovery,
A pointing finger,
Lingering inches from the world’s third eye
Pressing and pushing,
demanding the why’s, how’s, and what’s?
What is art?
Art is what I am
I am an artist
Is art an eye, looking into the inner workings of humanity?
Is it still art if it’s profanity?
S#!t, I don’t know
But why can’t it be?
Art
My alm, my balm, my psalm, my sanity
Cuz art just is and so
an Artist is me
or what I will grow to be
Some day

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Things Lost

When I was 11, I liked to jump in the deepest, muddiest rain puddles I could find. At my Gram's house, the best puddles always turned out to be near the big pear tree at the end of her alleyway. I would plunge in. I intentionally muddied the hems of my pants and made sure that my socks got good and soaked--wet enough to make my mom crazy and get me in trouble once I came back inside.

I miss that.

And I miss riding my bike dangerously fast down Graham street. I miss laughing at things that, in retrospect, really weren't that funny. I miss fantasy--imagining worlds and the future.

When I was 18, I knew that life was a gilded path laid out for me. I would stay up with friends until 2am in the halls of Uj (my college dorm), talking about nothing and politics and love and friends from back home and plans for spring break; listening to music; planning our next campus takeover (shouts out to Blaction!); imagining what life would be like as an adult. It didn't matter if I got two hours of sleep. It didn't matter if I ate pizza for breakfast and Starbucks for lunch.

I miss that, too.

I miss carefree. The ability to just live every day and not get overly consumed by anxiety about money, bills, a loved one's illness, my job, the state of my relationship with my significant other, etc.

It hasn't in all senses been an exchange of careefree or happy for something negative like stress or sadness. Carefree has also been replaced in some instances with substance, pragmatism, responsibility, perspective, and wisdom. These are gifts and tools that I know serve me well, and will continue to do so as they expand. But... sometimes I long to just get my socks muddy. Sometimes I just want to laugh at nothing.

Where does "happy" go when you experience the heaviness of life? You can still have joy, contentment, satisfaction, gratitude, and still feel like "happy" in the eleven-year-old, muddy-socks sense of the word, has escaped you.

Isn't there still room for "happy"?

I may have lost my happy. Or, maybe I just need to look for it in different places?

What makes you happy? In the most lighthearted, innocent, even fleeting sense of the word? How do you preserve that in your life?

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Writer's Block

I like. Shouts out to Chris for sharing.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Support this Sister!

Please contribute your support, then spread the word about this film and this director!



Iquo B. Essien also happens to be the author of Alligator Legs and a dear friend. Support her film!

Anew.

A few days in to 2012, I am still praying about what this year will bring forth for me, my loved ones, and my community. I know what my personal priorities are--writing, spending quality time with family and friends, becoming more financially secure, and developing my professional expertise--but I also know that God has a plan for me that may or may not shift and realign these priorities. I'm more than open to this!

I can tell you this: I'm so thankful to have made it through 2011. It was a year marked by global, national, and local turmoil and drama. Personally, it was yet another year of grief and loss, as well as a time of dramatic shifts and upheaval in personal relationships, significant career challenges and job transitions, a physical move out of my parents' home and thus a reunion with grief over them, and financial challenges to boot. It was rough! Thankfully, though, 2011 year was NOT marked by depression or loss of hope. Indeed, 2011 taught me and reminded me of some pretty darn powerful stuff: the importance of family; the hope and excitement of fresh starts; the beauty of this world we live in, which I was blessed to see through travel; the gift of health; the gift of friendship; and more. In 2011 I was able, yet again, to dig into my writing and develop more community around poetry, spoken word, writing, and the arts in general. I crave more of this! 2011 also affirmed my convictions about the power of education and my role in advancing equity in educational opportunity. Most importantly, 2011 was a faith journey through which I was reminded of the anchoring, soul-replenishing value of faith in God.

Looking forward, I won't post a list of resolutions per se. I will simply pledge two things: first, to continue to write for GWS as long as God allows it, and second, to take these 2011 lessons with me into this new year.

Happy New Year, friends!