Monday, November 17, 2014

In Darkness


A thick smell of humidity and musk rested in the air. It rested heavy causing breathing to be a lot more difficult as the air slowly entered into my lungs and rested there as well. Drops of rain being whipped around by the wind hitting the windows, trickling down casting shadows on my body. There were blotches of light that hit the floor but I remained hidden in the shadows, in the darkest part of the room. I held my legs as tight as I could, my hair falling over my face stuck to the tears that drowned my skin. Makeup smeared around my eyes trailing down my face, running down my neck soaking the collar of my shirt. I felt my eyes and lips swelling, my body subtly trembling. I had physically been there but my mind had been sucked into a black hole eternally disconnected from the world. I somehow managed to come back but had asked for too much again. My hands ran up my face stretching my skin as they grasped my scalp pulling my hair as hard as I could to move the focus of pain in another direction. Strands of hair twisted in between my fingers as my head hit the wall over and over again. Energy traveled inside of me through my veins causing my muscles to contract and release from frustration. Rage seeped through my skin and viciously attacked my mind. I pulled and pulled and my fingers dug into my palms painting my fingertips red. The smell of metal rose from my hands and sat as heavy as the musk and rain. I rested my head back as a pool of tears formed at the base of my eyes impairing my vision. Lightening struck illuminating my face that was flushed and blotched, bruised and smeared. There had been no conversation, no meeting, no communication. It was the silence that brought me there. Your silence rang in my ears, destroyed my mind, and threw me back in the grave where I died once again.

{'Hello Darkness, My Old Friend' by MadamePsychosis}

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The 6-Hour, 26.2 Mile Pilgrimage

When you hear 26.2 miles you think 'oh that's a car ride away,' which, in fact, it is. But when you attempt to run it, as in a marathon, it turns into a complete mental test, a 6-hour destination. It's a chance to get to know a city we so easily avoid. 5 boroughs with 6 hours of intimate getting-to-know each other. Bridges we normally drive through become pedestrian pathways. People we normally ignore become our support system. We all become interconnected for the race of our lives. Humanity embraces what it means to be humanly human. And we embrace what it truly means to be alive.

This was speed dating at its finest. I was willing to get to know as many people as I could and possibly motivate them and change their lives. With only 6-hours I was going to conquer the NYC streets one high five at a time. I would stop at the top of bridges and breathe in the skyline of a city I had just been reacquainted with.

When I tell you I was completely terrified, that is just an understatement. I had failed in my running duties and not taking training too seriously. I thought, ‘hey if a woman can give birth and not prepare for that then I can definitely run a marathon.’ This, of course, coming from a girl who has yet to get pregnant. But we always tend to underestimate the powers of the human mind and body and I would be completely in touch with myself in this very moment in time to attain the unattainable for some. 

I went into this with full intentions of blocking the world out. I didn't want to hear anything but the sound of my headphones. But then I heard the roaring of the crowd, which was better than any song I could play. The world was my stage and I was completely consumed. Every mile becomes a milestone as I develop into a newer better version of me. The city becomes a visual influence as I strive to be as tall as the buildings I stand next to.

I would be lying if I told you I did not think about giving up. More than halfway done yet 6.2 seems farther than 26.2. My knee begins to throb as I wonder how good it must feel to be standing still, sitting down, sleeping. I think back to the beginning of the race, a handicapped man with prosthetic legs being guided by two other men as he hunches over to catch his breath. Or the woman with a shirt that said 'Blind Runner' being led by the voice of the crowd all the way to the finish. And how about the man who juggled his way through and the woman who ran barefoot. Giving up was no longer an option but an obstacle. 

His name was Nano. Born in New York but currently lives in Indonesia. 
Hey! How are you doing?
Image captured while crossing the finish line.
Honestly, TERRIBLE! I just want to finish this race, eat my cinnamon raisin bagel, possibly have a beer or 10 and go to sleep!!!

His name was Barry. Born and raised in NYC.
It was the crowd on 1st Avenue right?
I had started the race with him but managed to lose him on the way. Darting down 1st from the excitement and energy of the crowd. He knew me well, but there he was next to me.

My two angels gave me wings, lifted me and without saying much dragged me to that finish line. Lamp post to lamp post, street light to street light, walk D to E, run F to the Finish.

I don't remember my feelings at that exact moment. I'm pretty sure I thought about stuffing my face. I couldn't even manage to walk to the people giving out the medals as I extended my arms for them to come to me, and with a simple gesture a volunteer runs over and gives me a hug,
CONGRATULATIONS!
I left Central Park with new relationships and intimate memories of the city. A journey not even a car could cover nor a bike or a plane. A pilgrimage where thousands headed towards sacred land. A reflection of life itself.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Colors of a Rainbow

The giant bird had landed safely leaving me an emotional wreck. I have yet to touch the land but being on it breaks down my walls and floods my face with tears. Part of the same planet, thousands of miles away from familiar land. A mutual ocean the only body we share. I don’t remember what my ‘home’ is like because I’ve found a new place to stay. Disconnected yet connected to another world. The air feels heavier here, the people a little darker, my heart a little lighter. I was ready to take it in, pollution and all. It was much nosier, the streets more crowded with colorful women, men, children, cows, elephants. A community, a village, a family. Vibrant colors radiating, a reflection of their souls. Smiles, nothing but smiles. The simplicity of a smile the extension of their affection. My arrival had no impact as they went about their lives but my presence did not go unnoticed. Eyes locked for a second and transformed years of my life.

Two boys sitting on the side of the road blowing kisses my way. Eye Contact. They flutter towards me—butterflies and a smile. I’ve smiled a million times in my lifetime but this smile came from the depths of my stomach, the pit of my heart, my entire being. With a blow of a kiss love is spread and smiles are found. Beggars. Left, right, front, back—Beggars. Food their greatest luxury. Communication: hand to mouth—hunger. I put my head down. No Eye Contact. Shameful that I can’t help them all. Humbled. I can’t even help myself back at ‘home’ but they don’t know that. 

Mosques, temples, churches reside side by side on a one block span. Acceptance. God. Unity. A world so divided but they manage to coexist. Swastikas a symbol of well-being. A symbol we've learned to turn our heads from. 

Touch. Touch as much as you can. As long as you can feel you’ll remember. Marble, dirt, water. People laying on the streets, on the sidewalks, on staircases. Heat. Boiling hot dry heat. Sucks the life out of you. Puts you to sleep. But arms remain extended out to a world that cannot save them. Rivers, a communal place to cleanse—mind, body, soul. Forgiveness. 

Friendship. I have made friends here that will forever be in my heart—Raj. A man said, “We don’t believe in war we believe in unity.” And I thought how silly since I come from a world that is in war and remains divided. And he continues to say, “Countries are all alike and are made up of people just like us—children, mothers, fathers.” I couldn’t believe how much sense he made in a casual conversation. Sense the world lacks but could use to change it forever. Sense that is taking us years and years to figure out. Sense I just learned in a casual conversation. I gave him a tip. He placed it on his head then raised it towards the sky. It must be a universal gesture because I heard his ‘Thank You’ loud and clear. Maybe not to me but to some greater power. A meal he can bring home to his family. 

Family. My family is scarce back at ‘home’. Hi Mom, Bye Mom. That is my family and that is the time I have with my family. Eat, sleep, work, repeat. Life for us, it’s just there. For them, it’s everywhere. Mausoleum. The Dead reside 240ft above ground. A mausoleum of honor and love. A mausoleum of unity forever after. Their spirits celebrated with riches. I stand there in awe. A different world in the middle of their reality. Outside these walls, Beggars. Reality. 

Wedding. A population of billions, crowds of cars in between lines. In the middle of it all a celebration. Love always prevails. Music, fireworks, car horns, invitation. I find myself celebrating with the groom while he heads towards the rest of his life. I don’t know his name, age, wife but we’re celebrating together. Cars become more impatient. Horns overpowered by laughter. 

Appreciation of the world. Water, liquid gold—luxury. Work, long and hard—luxury. Family, hungry but many—luxury. Life is luxury. But there is something beautiful about suffering. Something we cure with a pill back at ‘home’. And I can’t help but think, “How can they live like this?” But they have for thousands of years and many more to come. “How can they live like this?” Valuing simplicity over complexity. Community over privacy. The only people to truly find peace and are able to live united. To accept others. To accept life. To promote love. 

Red. Orange. Yellow. Green. Blue. Indigo. Violet. When standing alone they are nothing but solid colors. Put together they make a rainbow.

RedOrangeYellowGreenBlueIndigoViolet put together make India.


As I ventured back home I found myself struggling to put this experience into words. My heart feels heavy as I think about how their lives continue to move on as I remain frozen in a past that dances around me and is forever etched into my heart.

Monday, March 31, 2014

English Majors, Teachers, Writers & Readers Are 'All Knowing' .. Obviously.

I've been in numerous English courses and have been around numerous English majors. We usually have a lot in common: Our interest in words, literature, writing, analyzing, and viewing the world a little differently. But one thing I have noticed is our tendency to be a little pretentious and our excessive usage of the word, "OBVIOUSLY."



So there I was, sitting in an English class and my Professor is throwing around the word "obviously" after every sentence.
Obviously Holden Caulfield is going through an obvious crisis in being afraid to grow up .. Obviously. But he obviously doesn't grow up as he runs away from all his obvious problems.
Really Professor? Is it really that 'obvious' that we should clearly understand where you are coming from? This is a vicious attack on those who haven't gotten it because they are 'obviously' too stupid to see what is so clearly in front of them.

Let me define OBVIOUSLY:
In a clearly perceptible manner, evidently, plainly, manifestly; naturally, as might be expected from the circumstances.
In other words:
Of course, duh, apparently.
It makes it seem that we are 'all knowing' and whatever we are saying should be 'obvious' because it is so 'clearly apparent' that they should know too. FALSE.

The word is so mis-used in an attempt to sound intellectual. It's not like the person you are saying it to is like,
I'm so foolish! You're right. It is so OBVIOUS!!!
But, I have fallen into the 'obvious' bandwagon and have been stinging people with the word since the day I was born with my 'obvious' presence.

People just don't like it. People don't like me for it. They think it's obnoxious. Because whatever seems so "obvious" clearly isn't.

This goes out to all those English majors, writers, readers, and analyzers .. What may be 'obvious' to us is not so 'obvious' to everyone else ...

...OBVIOUSLY...


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

"Americans": The True Immigrants

The Thanksgiving Story

The Pilgrims sailed all the way to Plymouth Rock and came across Native Americans. The Native Americans taught the Pilgrims how to plant corn and other crops. Being inspired by the new harvest, both groups united together celebrating with a big feast to give thanks ... & history is born.

-THE END-




As children we are taught a false perception of history-- a clean, heroic, American way of history.
America the great, America the beautiful, but there lies a disturbing truth behind these stories that many people turn a blind eye to. Children are in a way brainwashed to believe history in the way that it has been molded to benefit the country. We live in a bubble where we do no wrong and figure that our interventions, past, present and future are always to better others and to help those in need. But what about the manipulation, the lies, the distortion of what we are taught throughout our whole lives? And for those who know the truth about the world, where does that leave us in raising children to, in a way, be against the educational system and what is taught? How can we tell them that what their teacher is saying is a semi-truth?

National Geographic Kids state,
"On the fourth Thursday of November, Americans celebrate Thanksgiving, a national holiday honoring the early settlers and their harvest feast known as the first Thanksgiving ... They played ball games, sang, and danced."

But when do we ever learn about the Pequot War?

An alliance of English colonies attacked the Pequot tribe made up of 700 unarmed men, women, and children. Those who survived were shipped off and sold into slavery.

It was a massacre.

In the book, 'The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,' written by Sherman Alexie, a Native American himself growing up in the Spokane Indian Reservation he states,
"I always think it's funny when Indians celebrate Thanksgiving. I mean, sure, the Indians and Pilgrims were best friends during that first Thanksgiving, but a few years later, the Pilgrims were shooting Indians ..."
"'Hey, Dad,' I said. 'What do Indians have to be so thankful for?'
'We should give thanks that they didn't kill all of us.'"
Our view of History is essentially formed by the perception of the hand that wrote it.

And as time progressed and Americans grasped the idea of 'Manifest Destiny,' Native Americans have been pushed and confined into these small and extremely poor Reservations. They have been tucked away and paid off to keep their brutal past hidden from the new 'civilizations' growing around them.


Native Americans in Today's Culture

Football-
  • Washington Redskins

Baseball-
  • Atlanta Braves
  • Cleveland Indians

Basketball-
  • Buffalo Braves
  • Golden State Warriors

Hockey-
  • Chicago Blackhawks

Isn't this a form of Racism?
Aren't 'we' mocking a 'type' of person-- a stereotype?
Wouldn't this be a false representation of what 'we' perceive a Native American looks like?

Usually in sports a mascot is represented by an animal, then what does that make the representation of a Native American?

A kid in one of my classes says that it's okay for Americans to use these terms, even when the Washington Redskins received negative backlash for their name. He said,
"You just pay them off to shut them up."
Have we grown so ignorant and naive to believe that this is okay? America has grown to have this superior mindset, this 'we think we're so much better' mindset, this 'we live in America speak English' mindset, while the whole world sits back and laughs as we continue our lives living on lies upon lies upon lies.

Money.

You just give them what they need in order to conquer the land. Suffocate them in things until they say "YES." Use them then lose them. Come on guys this has happened time and time again.

So to sum up all this craziness .. America has deprived the Natives of their land and pushed them so far away. Their History isn't accurately taught, and their perception in today's culture isn't accurately portrayed. But there is a bigger picture here. One that cannot be written but processed in the mind.

I wouldn't be surprised if someone offered to pay me off to keep my mouth shut and delete this post.

{First Comic by Mike Luckovich}
{Second Comic by David Horsey 'The Truth of Thanksgiving'}

Monday, March 24, 2014

Can We Really Say What We Mean & Mean What We Say?


Suck was a queer word ... But the sound was ugly. Once he had washed his hands in the lavatory of the Wicklow Hotel and his father pulled the stopper up by the chain after and the dirty water went down through the hole in the basin. And when it had all gone down slowly the hole in the basin had made a sound like that: suck. Only louder. -James Joyce (A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man)

What are words?

Words. Made up of letters. Made up of sounds. But what do they mean?
In 'A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man', James Joyce plays with the character, Stephen Dedalus, as he struggles through words and their meanings. Words are used in 2 ways:
  1. Actual Meaning: Let's use the word 'SUCK' for example. According to the Oxford Dictionary, suck means to draw into the mouth by contracting the muscles of the lip and mouth to make a partial vacuum.
  2. Figurative Meaning: As in to be a 'suck up', which means to pretty much kiss someones butt. 
The shift in words causes Stephen Dedalus to have a hard time understanding them. Does this possibly take away from their meaning?
Words are a funny thing. They are a way for people to communicate and a way for people to express
themselves. But we also use words and manipulate them & somehow lose their true meaning.

We give words so much power. Universally, everyone decided that the word 'FUCK' is a bad word. So we are left with the media censoring certain words that everyone agrees are bad. But we are forgetting that they are just words. Letters. Sounds. People are the cause of them being bad. We use them against others.

Humans are more complicated than words. Our feelings are this unknown, indescribable part of our lives and words restrict us to really express our thoughts, feelings, emotions as we are limited to happy, sad, love, hate and every synonym on top of that, that essentially mean the same thing. 

Let me create a scenario: Imagine a world with no words. We communicate visually. How would we think? What language would our thoughts be in? How does a person that is deaf hear his or her own thoughts?

The world is more complex than a 26-letter alphabet. Our emotions and our beings cannot be expressed with the simplicity of words. Such a mystifying thing holds no language, no definitions. It just is. No words can justify without the filtration. So can we really mean what we say and say what we mean as it had been processed and let out into the universe from our minds? 

And the next time you say "I love you," think about how meaningless those words mean. In writing we use the term, 'Show don't Tell'. So maybe take a step back and try to really capture your feelings even if the words you are saying do not make sense. Or better yet, use your actions to express what is happening on the inside.

 

Writing Tip: 

 

Use this in your writing and you'll see how you can make a paragraph from showing what a simple phrase as, "I was sad," can turn into a full paragraph or even a full story of what sits behind those 3 simple words.

The irony in all of this is that we are still using words to 'Show' & not 'Tell'. But, we are putting more meaning behind them and creating our own interpretive definition.

{Image by Alex Eylar}
{Comic by WatchersWeb.com}