vignettes: january 22 – january 27

On Monday, some of the kids started to trickle back from their relative’s homes where they were over the weekend and the week passed relatively uneventfully. I am slowly making progress with Fernando and Elmer in learning all the letters and the sounds of the alphabet. Hopefully, in the next two weeks, we will be able to move onto small words which will be really exciting. I am going to order a parenting book called The Kazdin Method for Parenting the Defiant Child from Amazon, to get some new tactics for managing the children when I am the only adult around. Shout out to my psychologist who recommended that book to me!

Friday and Saturday the Doxa Board had their meeting here in Tijuana, which I was lucky enough to sit in on. We started out in Maria’s Orphanage on Friday and had around four hours of meetings split by an amazing lunch of tamales with all the toppings made by Panchita. The Doxa Board is in an interesting time of transition because for many years the Doxa Board was not only governing the organization but was also in charge of the day to day work for Doxa. Now the board is now transitioning to more of a traditional nonprofit board, governing the organization rather than actually doing the work to run the organization. Because Alex Knopes was brought on as Executive Director in 2015 the board has slowly been moving some of its previous responsibilities onto Alex. Alex used the metaphor of mountain climbing to describe the different roles of the board and the Executive Director. The board can choose what mountain Doxa is going to climb and gives the Executive Director tools to climb the mountain, but it is Alex who actually climbs the mountain.

Whiteboard notes
All of Doxa Board, with Maria and Panchita

After lunch the board discussed financials, and fundraising as boards tend to do. We also looked at two properties that Doxa might possibly look into buying in Rojo Gomez. Currently, Maria’s orphanage cannot host housing groups larger than 30 and when groups come, it affects a lot of the children as they have to stay with their relatives or stay in Maria’s small apartment, as the sleeping quarters are being used by groups. Doxa wants to invest and expand their program in the east side of Tijuana, which would entail buying land and constructing new buildings, but that is a decision for the future.

View from Casa Hogar de los Niños
Soraida’s baby, Mateo with Andrew Schein, Doxa Board President

Late afternoon we piled back up into trucks and vans and headed over to West Tijuana, to Pedregal de Santa Julia, where I first became acquainted with this city through spring break trips. A huge group went to go eat dinner at Tacos El Frances down in Las Playas. The whole board was there as well as Rosa’s family, Doxa employees, and their families. It was one of the first experiences I’ve had of seeing the two parts of Doxa come together. On one end of the table were all the people who could only speak English– American board members, in the middle were people who could speak both, and on the other end were people who could only speak Spanish– Mexican Doxa employees and their families. And then a few people were moving back and forth between both ends. It was such a lovely night to catch up and connect with new friends and old.

Model of the new community center
Architectural plans

Saturday morning we listened to a presentation by architect Aaron Gutierrez of Amorphica Design Research Office as well as Gina Muñoz, Roberto Gutierrez, and Aldo Cano about the community center that will be built in Pedregal. It was really exciting to see the plans, and hear about Amorphica’s mission and vision in Tijuana and across the border as well as the way that their firm has approached the design for the community center. There are lots of classrooms, a Zumba dance room, and my favorite space, Siempre Juntos Todo el Tiempo– always together all the time, on the first level. It is so exciting to see this dream start to come true and I cannot wait for what is coming for Doxa’s educational and community programs in West Tijuana.

Overall it was such a busy, yet joy-filled weekend to see how God is acting in Doxa on a large scale!


january 2018 playlist

I’m sharing my music taste again. My playlist of the month is a little bit different this month, as after I came to Tijuana, I haven’t been listing to very many new releases.

january 2018


I started off the year with “New Year’s Day” from the new Taylor Swift album. I love how subdued the song is compared to the rest of the album. Then because I have been pretty behind in listening to hip-hop, I added some tunes off Jamila Wood’s debut HEAVN. Her song “LSD”, featuring Chance the Rapper is one of my favorites. I have also been really enjoying Roy Wood’s new album Say Less. I only heard of him in 2016 after Nocturnal came out, but I love his style of music and lyrics. Particular favorites include “Something New” and “Monday to Monday”. In terms of pop music Sigrid’s “Don’t Kill My Vibe” was on repeat for a long bit, it’s such a danceable and catchy song and her voice is absolutely incredible. Her song “Dynamite” is a very good example of the range that her voice has, she sounds almost like Adele in parts, but still maintains a unique tambor.

I hope you had a wonderful first month of 2018! Now that the orphanage I am staying at has wifi, I should be able to maintain my resolution of posting twice a week.

on flies

“It turns out that at some moment in their career every true writer has dedicated to a fly a poem, a page, a paragraph, a line; if you’re a writer and haven’t yet done it, I think you should follow my example and do it right now; flies are Eumenides, they are Erinyes; they punish you.” – Augusto Monterroso

they, suffocating, all enveloping
every drop of food that is not being eaten by
dirty human hands or rummaged through by
skinny cats is being eaten by

crowding around potatoes and oranges
slowly peeling away the layers to get to the flesh
boys surrounding a fight in high school hallways
they, the visible and ever present uninvited guest
ever exploring, finding new territory to conquer
what must i do to stop this terrible half buzzing unrest

they, some sign of the divine
for I may be bigger, but I cannot kill
swarm and move quicker
then my thought to swat one away
drunk on that liquor

zooming erratically
patiently on the ceiling
some new vantage point
they, wings failing

in threes and fours and tens and hundreds
and thousands on the kitchen cable cord
claim this, this life
this, this cucumber
this, this spot on the wall
while i cannot claim anything

vignettes: january 16 – january 21

I am spending a few months working with Doxa, a nonprofit that focuses on education, community and house-building in Tijuana. I am staying at Unidos por Siempre, one of the orphanages that Doxa partners with, where I stayed for a week during my work with Doxa last July. María runs the orphanage, but all the children here call her “Mama” or “Madrina” and being here has been like returning to a distant relative’s home. I know it, yet everything is still new. I am getting to know the children who were not here over the summer and María’s extended family, indeed how this orphanage is run.

The days here ebb and flow, with the coming and going of the children and with the light. Even without an alarm, I wake up with the sun and at 6:00 pm it is already dark and I begin to get sleepy. When the younger children go to school in the afternoon, the whole orphanage gets quieter and when they return in the hours before dinner there is a great commotion as some of the children try to do their homework and the others play and yell outside.

at Unidos Por Siempre

Some of the children remembered me from the summer- especially the girls who I stayed with- Camila, Ididria and Sabrina as well as Fernando to whom I was teaching the alphabet. I have restarted that process, but it is a daunting task because there is so much to learn in order to be able to read and write. However, I think Spanish is much easier to teach than English because there are fewer letters that are silent or have multiple sounds. Often I have to remember that my goals must be small and attainable and that success will not come overnight. I have found encouragement in Romans 8:24-25 which says “But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” I am trying to wait patiently, to continue working a little bit every day with the children.

In the meantime, I have been learning about the all the different little things that make up this community in Rojo Gomez. On Wednesday, I went to the pharmacy with María to get anti-lice shampoo, combs, and gel because I had shown her the nits- los piojos in Camilla, Ididria, and Anita’s hair. Over two days Panchitas and an assortment of others picked out all (or at least almost all) of the nits in their hair. Camilla’s was by far the worst. She may have had a nit on every hair on her head. Then on Thursday, the man who sells movies came and I was amazed to find DVD discs of films that are currently out in the theaters. I’ve now seen Jumanji and Coco both of which are currently playing in cinemas. This underground dissemination of illegally copied files, which travel to all the houses in the neighborhood is fascinating. The collection of films was also quite interesting. Besides the movies out in theaters now, there were small indie films like L’Amante Double, which is a French film that debuted at the London Film Festival in 2017, and lots of children’s animated movies.

the illegal DVDs

On Saturday a lot of the children who went home to their families for the weekend came over in the afternoon and some friends of María’s came by with clothing donations. Just before they left, they threw a whole bunch of coins for the children to run and collect. It was fun to see the joy on the kid’s faces as they counted the monedas but I was hyper-aware of the sense that it felt exactly like treating poverty like a game, and felt very condescending,

The week so far has been immensely freeing. My responsibilities take lots of time and energy and patience, but they are simple, to help with whatever is needed and to hang out with the kids and teach them to read.

i can’t write: exercise #5 (narcissist)

From a one word prompt: Forlorn

i’ve got a friend who calls herself a narcissist
because she believes in herself
because she has high self-esteem
and doesn’t need to be told that she’s a good writer
to know that it’s true

the sky is greyed blue
like a postcard

we try too hard
she apologizes for the clothes strewn about her house
forlorn, waiting and unchosen to go on some new journey
in self-deprecating
so afraid to be right
or good
we cast ourselves in shadows
when the northwest light would shine even in the rain

i’m trying intermittent fasting

Spain was absolutely lovely, but I definitely gained a few pounds from all that wine and jamón, so I was looking for some interesting diet to follow when I read a really wonderful article by a woman who has lost 50 lbs using intermittent fasting. I’m definitely not looking to lose that much weight, but I thought the idea seemed really neat as intermittent fasting has been shown to help you lose weight, reduce your chance of type 2 diabetes, live longer (most of the research on lifespan has been done on animals), give you more energy and has long been used by religious groups to become closer to the divine.

I think what I like most about this diet is that you don’t have to decrease your normal calorie intake on days when you do eat. This means not worrying about having seconds at dinner or eating some junk food (all within reason, of course). Another nice aspect of IF that I am currently using to stave off cravings is that one can have up to 500 calories (depending on your BMI and gender), even on days when I am fasting. The plan that I am following currently is the 5:2 plan or non-consecutive fasting. I am fasting Tuesdays and Fridays, then eating normally the other days. Becuase I am currently living at home before going down to Mexico, I am breaking my fasts at 9:30 am and starting them at 9:30 pm, but when I go to Mexico this time will likely become earlier. Today is a Friday, so I have had lots of sparkling water, some rooibos tea, and a couple of Pringles because they taste so good, but I have not had any meals. Frankly, I have felt a little hungry on fast days, but I am also enjoying the challenge and others have said that cravings go away over time, which I am looking forward to.

As for exercise, I am going for light exercise on my fasting days; a nice walk, pilates, or just chilling on the couch and watching Netflix. On regular days I’m doing HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) on my Pelaton bike, and maybe I will see if I can convince myself to go for a run in this cold weather.

I am definitely not a medical professional but hopefully, I can share with you some results a few weeks or so. If you’re interested in IF, do your research and enter into fasting slowly and with caution. Please talk to your doctor to make sure IF would be okay with your body. And if you are pregnant, have diabetes or any other health issues relating to blood sugar then do not use intermittent fasting.

he wrote with whiskey

velvet disco pants and pink whimsied drinks
such a bad idea, but i had already fallen
his grin was what got me
his eyes caught me
and his lips trapped mine
he called me decadent
everything is sin, oh what extravagance
just a mattress on the floor and barely locked doors
cheaper than the vodka from tesco

the scene that i should not be in
where the wisdom, oh say
this is not the place for me
wrong page
my castle, my ruin
of what written in novels
all crashing down too soon

he wrote with whiskey
fairytales and brilliant tawdry things
but i cannot pretend
i am in these woods because i wish to be alone
always alone
with snow and such winged beings
the small folk do listen
if you will let them sing
silver and gold branches
dances that never end
roads of dripping rubies
and emerald envy dipped pens

he wrote with whiskey
under dim humming old lights
my velvet pants packed away
saved for some other handsome stranger
on some other bewitched night