i want.
I want to make art and help people.

I really do.

I'm not particularly gifted with painting, or drawing, or building, or making crafts; my fingers don't work deftly to create beautiful pieces of anything, but it doesn't matter.

There's a real itch under my skin to go away, and spend some time with creative, thinky people. To make art together. Finding a way to form the thoughts in my head into shapes in the world, since writing seems to have abandoned me.

I want to breathe fresh air.

I want to colour. Tear. Cut. Paste. Paint. Draw. Mould. Stitch.

I want to hammer. I want to saw. I want to learn how to make things.

I want my hands to be dirty with colours and glue. I want to scrunch my nose up at it, and try to wipe it away numerous times, because oh gosh my eczema is flaring up and I need to scratch gah i have paint on my face, but it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter.

I want to hear birds, and feel the wind on my face, and cool water on my red red toenails.

I want to sit at a big wooden table and make art.

Away on my pod, sitting on the lake.
"I felt very still and empty, the way the eye of a tornado must feel, moving dully along in the middle of the surrounding hullabaloo" - sylvia plath, the bell jar

Today was a difficult day. Another one, yet another one. They used to be easier to keep track of, until they started to outnumber the good days. I am listless. But I am also fiercely passionate, in bursts that I try to capture, but they don't stay still long enough for me to hold on to, write down, use, enjoy. Stilted speech, incomplete thoughts; my mind is littered with semi-colons.

I know there's a spark in me, I know my drive exists, I know I am shades brighter than colours with life washed out of them. But it's a funny thing to 'know' and forget at the same time.

In my head I write down Things That Make Me Happy; What I'm Grateful For; Take note: this felt good; You Are Able. Two steps into the day, deep breaths, foot in front of the other, write down good moments, challenge negative self-talk, sit up straight.

I am overwhelmed. I feel guilty. I want to hide.

I remain present. I am here.  I feel unseen. To the world, or to myself? I don't know.

Farewell, sweet soul. Thank you for the light, joy, laughter, silliness & heart you brought to this world. My prayers are with you, your family, and all who love you.
On this earth: 11th May, 1982 - 13th July, 2013

Go gently into the night, dear man, certain in the knowledge that you were loved.

In a country with billboards covered in tits, why are women made to feel embarrassed for this?

Embarassed by spoken word poet Hollie McNish

Powerful. Honest. Important. Necessary.

I wrote this poem in a public toilet after my 6 month old baby fell asleep. I was in town on my own a lot with her and the first time I fed her someone commented that I should stay home. Baby’s need breastfed every 2-3 hours often. It’s impossible to run home. It’s a stupid argument anyway. But I was embarrassed and for 6 months took her into toilets when I was alone without the support of boyfriend, friends, mum etc. I hate that I did that but I was nervous, tired and felt awkward.

- Hollie McNish (x)

How eager we are to sexualize & profit off a woman’s body ; how quick we are to shame her for feeding her child.

*shared this on Tumblr, but I want it here too*.

Our revolution is long overdue.

My grandmother passed away exactly 18 years ago. We brought her body to the home she loved, in the state she spent her entire adult life in, after migrating here and raising a family ; her body laid to rest next to my grandfather. A man she married after their marriage was 'arranged', but whom she loved fiercely and dearly, the way he loved her too.

When we opened the coffin for the family to pay their last respects, a white butterfly flew out. It was a strange moment; those who believed in symbolism or that the butterfly represented something more significant, attached that meaning to it, while others paid little attention to it. For me, a child experiencing her first encounter with Death, it just felt comforting. Maybe it felt other worldly, but like a fairy tale. Or a more tangible representation of a soul leaving.

The strange thing though is that every year on the death of her anniversary (as it did again this year), most of us in the family will have our own encounters with butterflies. Maybe we are the only ones paying attention, the only ones to whom the memory of the white butterfly held any significance. I don't know. What does it mean? I don't know. But still, I find it comforting.

I wish I'd had years and years and years of knowing my grandmother, but alas, they were too few. Or maybe there's no time that's 'enough' to be spent with the people you love. She had a wicked sense of humour; she loved to play Monopoly with us when we were kids - but she'd also steal from the bank and beat us with a stick (and called us liars!) when we called her a cheat [but she'd also lie to our parents and say that we spent the afternoon studying hard, and hide that we were  buying fake property and entertaining her thieving ways and so we should be let out to play early that day!]. She was an amazing cook; she ran the household but was also a 'leader', looked up to in the community; a generous soul, a lover of pro-wrestling, wine and mangoes; she loved the Church and her family, and always had a hearty laugh. What I cherish the most though is the spirit for generousity, social justice, and kindness that she instilled in my mother and her children. It was the fire for reaching out, helping others, and giving even when you yourself have very little that burns strongly in our family, that has shaped us, and that has given me so much.

Refugee Mother & Child by Chinua Achebe
No Madonna and Child could touch
that picture of a mother's tenderness
for a son she soon will have to forget.

The air was heavy with odors
of diarrhea of unwashed children
with washed-out ribs and dried-up
bottoms struggling in labored
steps behind blown empty bellies.

Most mothers there had long ceased
to care but not this one; she held
a ghost smile between her teeth
and in her eyes the ghost of a mother's
pride as she combed the rust-colored
hair left on his skull and then -
singing in her eyes - began carefully
to part it... In another life
this would have been a little daily
act of no consequence before his
breakfast and school; now she
did it like putting flowers
on a tiny grave.
Posted on Mother's Day, 2013.

I read the commencement address by John Green, and was reminded of this poem I had saved a long time ago. The excerpt from the commencement speech that struck me:

And lastly, be vigilant in the struggle toward empathy. A couple years after I graduated from college, I was living in an apartment in Chicago with four friends, one of whom was this Kuwaiti guy named Hassan, and when the U.S. invaded Iraq, Hassan lost touch with his family, who lived on the border, for six weeks. He responded to this stress by watching cable news coverage of the war 24 hours a day. So the only way to hang out with Hassan was to sit on the couch with him, and so one day we were watching the news and the anchor was like, “We’re getting new footage from the city of Baghdad,” and a camera panned across a house that had a huge hole in one wall covered by a piece of plywood. On the plywood was Arabic graffiti scrawled in black spraypaint, and as the news anchor talked about the anger on the Arab street or whatever, Hassan started laughing for the first time in several weeks.

“What’s so funny?” I asked him.

“The graffiti,” he said.

“What’s funny about it?”

“It says, Happy Birthday, Sir, Despite the Circumstances.”

For the rest of your life, you are going to have a choice about how to read graffiti in a language you do not know, and you will have a choice about how to read the actions and intonations of the people you meet. I would encourage you as often as possible to consider the Happy Birthday Sir Despite the Circumstances possibility, the possibility that the lives and experiences of others are as complex and unpredictable as your own, that other people—be they family or strangers, near or far—are not simply one thing or the other—not simply good or evil or wise or ignorant—but that they like you contain multitudes, to borrow a phrase from the great Walt Whitman.

When I first read and saved the poem by Chinua Achebe, I was so deeply moved by the tragedy of it; a  mother's loving act in the face of anguish.

That point of view hasn't wavered, but reading it again now, I am reminded of the other layer: in environments that are so hostile, in war-torn lands and in refugee camps painted with the permanence of despair, living alongside the struggle to survive, are the gentle heartbeats of love from a mother to her child, not as a 'response to horror or pain', but merely present in the reality of their being.

She's not just a refugee preparing for the inevitable goodbye to her child; she's not just someone praying for her life and the life of her family to change; she is breathing and living and loving in this very moment, not in spite of anything else, but because she is a person, a woman, a mother.

And so to her I bid, Happy Mother's Day, Despite the Circumstances.
Tags: ,

(no subject)
“After learning my flight was detained 4 hours,

I heard the announcement:
If anyone in the vicinity of gate 4-A understands any Arabic,
Please come to the gate immediately.

Well—one pauses these days. Gate 4-A was my own gate. I went there.
An older woman in full traditional Palestinian dress,
Just like my grandma wore, was crumpled to the floor, wailing loudly.
Help, said the flight service person. Talk to her. What is her
Problem? we told her the flight was going to be four hours late and she
Did this.

I put my arm around her and spoke to her haltingly.
Shu dow-a, shu- biduck habibti, stani stani schway, min fadlick,
Sho bit se-wee?

The minute she heard any words she knew—however poorly used—
She stopped crying.

She thought our flight had been canceled entirely.
She needed to be in El Paso for some major medical treatment the
Following day. I said no, no, we’re fine, you’ll get there, just late,

Who is picking you up? Let’s call him and tell him.
We called her son and I spoke with him in English.
I told him I would stay with his mother till we got on the plane and
Would ride next to her—Southwest.

She talked to him. Then we called her other sons just for the fun of it.

Then we called my dad and he and she spoke for a while in Arabic and
Found out of course they had ten shared friends.

Then I thought just for the heck of it why not call some Palestinian
Poets I know and let them chat with her. This all took up about 2 hours.

She was laughing a lot by then. Telling about her life. Answering

She had pulled a sack of homemade mamool cookies—little powdered
Sugar crumbly mounds stuffed with dates and nuts—out of her bag—
And was offering them to all the women at the gate.

To my amazement, not a single woman declined one. It was like a
Sacrament. The traveler from Argentina, the traveler from California,
The lovely woman from Laredo—we were all covered with the same
Powdered sugar. And smiling. There are no better cookies.

And then the airline broke out the free beverages from huge coolers—
Non-alcoholic—and the two little girls for our flight, one African
American, one Mexican American—ran around serving us all apple juice
And lemonade and they were covered with powdered sugar too.

And I noticed my new best friend—by now we were holding hands—
Had a potted plant poking out of her bag, some medicinal thing,

With green furry leaves. Such an old country traveling tradition. Always
Carry a plant. Always stay rooted to somewhere.

And I looked around that gate of late and weary ones and thought,
This is the world I want to live in. The shared world.

Not a single person in this gate—once the crying of confusion stopped
—has seemed apprehensive about any other person.

They took the cookies. I wanted to hug all those other women too.
This can still happen anywhere.

Not everything is lost.

~Naomi Shihab Nye (b. 1952), “Wandering Around an Albuquerque Airport Terminal.

This is beautiful, and a wonderful reminder of our *humanity*, how connected we all are and can be, sometimes with very little effort on our part.

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Not sure if i should let this be.
I've been going through a bit of a rough patch.

In the shower this morning, when the sweet sounds of music filled my soul.

When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let us glee...

Wait. What?

I may be ready to admit I have a problem.

One of my all-time favourite songs. Darren sings That's All, at PS Arts Event, 14th April 2013.

I caught my reflection in my laptop as I listened to this song, and I was decidedly *moonstruck*.

Just stop, Darren Criss. I don't have the strength to deal with this hopeless crush. :)


[vid posted by You Tube user "Valerie Parker"]

Shooting Star: Distressing? Yes. Important? Yes.
This is a few days late, but I saw a post about how it was so ‘pointless’ for Glee to have an ep on school shootings because ‘its not like that would lead to change in gun control legislation’. That baffled me. Where I come from, we’ve never had a shooting in school, and gun violence isn’t a major concern (there are other forms of violence to worry about, but not gun-related specifically). I say that because it might be relevant that my perspectives and reaction is influenced from existing in this reality that could possibly be very different from the person who posted that. I admit that I’ve always been more than confused about why the NRA and other gun-lobby groups have such a tight hold on gun-control legislation, and why it’s seemingly so impossible to pass very common-sense laws to prevent guns from being misused. Apart from lobby groups though, there’s surely a cultural component that’s making it very hard to pass these gun-related laws - in which case, isn’t it important that we address those ‘cultural barriers’, and isn’t the media one of the ways to do that? If anything, I’d have thought a community of Glee fans, or Klainers at the very least, would be a proponent of using the media to address these social concerns. I’m genuinely interested in hearing what others have to say. Perhaps I’m missing the point of contention.

Here’s Heather Hogan from After Elton and her thoughts on the matter:

Probably the four biggest complaints I heard about Glee last night were: 1) This is a comedy; how dare they do something so dramatic? 2) It’s way too soon after Newtown to show something like this on TV. 3) I can’t believe how emotionally manipulative that was. 4) It was pointless.

Look, I’m no champion of Glee. I’ve written way more harsh stuff about the show than I have nice stuff about the show, but I all of those arguments are a little confusing to me. I didn’t see a single gay person complaining about Glee doing drama when Kurt and Santana were grappling with their sexuality and trying to summon the courage to come out. Or when Karofsky’s self-loathing homophobia nearly killed him. Or when Unique was trying to embrace her gender identity. Pretty much all of us applauded that drama, right? We said it was important. That’s why we get so angry at this show so much. Because when it tells important stories well, it tells them better than anybody.

And it’s always going to be too soon after a school shooting if we don’t do something to stop school shootings. Sandy Hook wasn’t the first. And it won’t be the last. If you wait three months to tell this story, or six months, or a year, who’s to say how many more school shootings will happen between now and then? No, the time to open a dialogue about a horrific thing is when there’s momentum to change the horrific thing. That time is right now.

As for emotional manipulation, I think one of the greatest things a story can strive to do is make you feel a thing you’ve never felt before, and would never feel otherwise. Again, we applaud this show when it does that for gay folks. We count on this show to do that for gay folks. We want it to show the world what it’s like to be gay, to be in a same-sex relationship. Is it emotionally manipulative to make straight people feel that? To feel what it’s like to be gay, to be a friend to someone who’s gay, to root for someone who’s gay? No, man. That’s just the power of story. And this episode put us right in the middle of a school shooting. The directing, the acting, the whole thing, it made us feel like we were trapped in that choir room with New Directions, or trapped in that bathroom stall with Brittany, or crying on the floor of the school kitchen like Marley’s mother. It was scary as hell, it was traumatic, and it was gut-stompingly sad. We were there with them, not breathing with them, crying with them. We were transported inside of a story and made to feel things we’d never felt before. That’s what story does.

And yeah, in the moment when Sue confesses to being the one with the gun, it does feel pointless. But that’s not the end of the story, is it? It was Becky who had the gun, Becky who was just trying to take Brittany’s advice and prepare herself for the outside world. The point is that anyone can get his or her hands on a gun and most teenagers can just walk right into their high schools with guns in their backpacks. No, not everyone who has a gun wants to kill someone, but every gun has the potential to kill someone. Guns are everywhere in America and if someone wanted to walk into a school today in suburban Ohio and murder a whole classroom full of kindergarteners, they could do it. Gun violence in this country is out of fucking control. That’s the point. “Shooting Star” put us right in the middle of that point: “You feel how fucking terrible this is? Yeah, it’s a real thing. A real thing we need to address. Like now.”

And, frankly, the fact that it came right in the middle of an otherwise ludicrous episode of Glee, that’s also kind of the point. No one’s ever sitting around waiting for their school to get shot up. They’re planning what they’re going to wear from prom and strategizing about their basketball games in the afternoon and worrying about their term papers and living and laughing and loving and singing, and then their innocence is shattered with a single shot.

Full review from After Elton: http://www.afterelton.com/2013/04/glee-recap-418-forever-crying?page=0%2C3


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