Wednesday, January 28, 2015

to live, to tell

I've moved and consolidated my belongings multiple times this year, and right before Egypt I'm doing it again. I've always been stellar at hanging onto things, but now I dare say I'm getting the hang of this "whittling," subtracting to the essentials. Finding pleasures worth keeping.

Today I have a thick stack of folders and notebooks and journals to go through. Page after page of writing I've kept with me--a lot of one-off, unfinished bits. Poems and memories printed out during various corporate jobs(you can always spot the ones from inbox drafts). I leave in one week, so today is the day to go through all of this, type up what is worth keeping, and throw the physical away. Gosh bless Google Drive.

I found paragraphs detailing my strange skating rink hangout phase--for most of 8th and 9th grade I was there every weekend. During the week I tried to stay on best behavior to get there. This dull yellow building with brown letters--our small town mecca, this destination near the tracks. Freedom for me when I wanted it so bad. Five dollars would get you in the door, a buck more for skates. No parental units to slow us down. Shove your coat in a locker and tuck the key in your sock. Kiss boys from other schools and get to know the tough girls in the bathroom. Girls with bangs that arced like waves beyond their forehead, girls that blew perfect smoke rings. They were hell on wheels in the rink, split ends drifting past shoulders, leaning over sink with eyeliner pencils. Public displays were all the rage.

I'm so thankful to be a writer. I've spent the past 8 months living in the town of my youth--the first place I ever realized how much I love the pen and page, how necessary it felt for me to get it all down, as it happened and after. I know the very road we drove down when I decided I would have to experience all that I could because that is what I wanted to write from. Experience, experience everything. I remember that moment. Middle school, young. I was in the backseat of the car and I nodded the affirmation to myself--not just affirming but a promise. Live to tell the tale.

Foolish I forget just how much there is to tell.

I'm endlessly proud to be a creative person. To be a witness, to feel blessed for it. I love being a writer. I love looking back through the books, the journals, the random scribbled on receipts and napkins: so much life! And going back to read it is a bit like living it twice. I re-dedicate myself to this promise. To live, to tell. All this and love calms the quake in my heart. Sudden in my chest this brilliant whisper: thrive, thrive, thrive. Living well, living solid...even when it's tough. Especially when its tough. Who else is gonna tell my story?

Thursday, January 22, 2015

dear egypt

I know what it's like to arrive to you. To step off the plane and into a pour of people, the double click-smack-thud of passport stamped. La shukran dismounting tongue as person after person offers to carry my bags or take me home. I know what it's like to search and then see J's face in the crowd of people waiting outside. The traffic on the bridge and double parked streets of Zamalek. The noise of being there is an old friend.

photo by JG

I love the ballet of walking around. Terrain uneven with busted bits, air conditioner drips and cat shit--you've got to pay attention. You learn to walk in the street. I wonder if I'll ever be fearless of that--years of bike commuting in the city makes me extra twitchy around cars, I think. A proximity so close that only shadow separates us. I love passing the giant church as night falls and a wedding ends. Egyptians standing around dressed to the nines out front, lighting cigarettes. The hotel bar on the corner where everyone greets you with "Habibi!" and patrons chain-smoke while futbol plays on the televisions. Car horns in varying tones bleating on all through the night. Call to prayer pulls me out onto the balcony, and I'll stand there inspired near delirium beneath a sky full of harmonies.

Lovely Egypt, I am often intimidated by your history. I feel like I should bring you something when I arrive, besides myself. Is that enough? I come with my own past, my own complicated layers. My own ruins and legends and truths. Perhaps our individual depths will bring out my best. I still know so little about you, and our paths crossing is bound to get intimate--I fully expect you to leave an imprint. Certain streets will own memory(some I dare say already do). Egypt, my habibi, it will be wonderful to add you to my list of many homes.

this video

Sunday, January 11, 2015

moving (1)

My to-do list shrinks and swells. I run all my errands with a pen near my grip so I can take away and add to it. All the big and small bits of preparation for what is now merely weeks away: my move overseas.

As if acknowledging my departure, snow fell a week ago and stayed--today, a Sunday, is the first time the temperature has been above freezing since it arrived. I guess winter thinks I might miss her(though I'm quite sure we haven't seen the last of each other).

This is the part where I say how I feel. I feel way too many things. There is the generic rush that comes with making a list of important things and crossing them off. The necessity of getting things done like certifying mail and booking doctor appointments. There is the overwhelming need to spend as much time as I can with my family--going to spin class with dad, playing with Maddie and Cohen, making my sister laugh as much as possible. There is the intense urge to eat all of the Mexican food I possibly can. There is worry for what is to come--potential homesickness, the time switch/adjustment. Excitement and a bit of shock weaves itself through all of it. I feel all of the things!

This week I had my immunizations(4 shots total, 2 in each shoulder), and found a second suitcase--the same exact suitcase I'm already traveling with, but this time on sale. I'm tickled that I now have matching luggage by happenstance. Next month I will only bring 2 suitcases worth of stuff(and a carry-on) with me--the rest will be shipped over later. Now is the time I call upon any/all of my Tetris-esque skills for packing. I'm choosing a handful of books to take with me--the rest will be boxed up for later. I'm getting a kick out of the sentiment "choosing a handful of books." Since when have I ever been able to do that? So far most of them are poetry(and so far it is more than a handful).

Even the not-so-exciting things(like stocking up on anti-diarrheals) are becoming a thrill as each day becomes a night and then a morning, every moment another inch closer to go-time. It's very scary, but even moreso amazing.

Dang. After all this waiting, here we are.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

things i dig: rum + coke

Rum + Coke

From the designer herself(via the r+c website):

With a Bachelors from Williams College and a plan to start a career in finance, I hated my work clothes. I always dreamt of being a designer so in 2012 I quit and joined the Nakimuli team and in 2013 I struck out on my own and started Rum + Coke.

Women are constantly bombarded with messages that highlight their “inadequacies” or ”flaws”.

I have made it my personal mission to replace these messages of self loathing with messages of self-love and empowerment. I truly believe that women should feel confident and beautiful every time we get dressed.

If one of my garments makes you smile, walk taller & love yourself a little more then I am on the right track.

Love always,

From her refinery29 interview:

Your styles are sold in a huge range of sizes, but they're only shot on larger models. Why is that?
"No one questions why there are only small women in other brands' shoots. I put women of color and 'larger' women in my photo shoots for many reasons. One, because I believe in the multiplicity of beauty, and two, there are so many women who seldom see women who look like them in advertisements."

The clothes, mission, and designer are all badass. Rum+Coke offers size small to 3X and the colors/cuts/shapes are inspiring. Especially when you get to see them on real people. I'm so excited to follow Coco's work and see where she goes next.

Their capsule collection, Paint the Town, debuts this Thursday. Follow them on twitter(shoprumandcoke), Facebook(rumandcokes), and/or instagram(rumandcokes).


Sunday, January 4, 2015

Thursday, January 1, 2015


Exciting news! A poem of mine has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize! My first ever nomination, and it's my most recent publication which makes me doubly excited about where my new work is taking me. Thanks to Profane Journal for the vote of confidence and nomination. Hooray!

some of december

during our honeymoon getaway we spotted a massive amount of turkey buzzards roosting on the lodge roof.

It was a ridiculously beautiful month, much needed to close out quite a turbulent/eventful calendar year. More adventure, love, and inspiration awaits. I am so ready for it.

More soon(I'm still under the thumb of this ridiculous flu).