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

new year’s eve

As we head off into 2018, lots of people are going to make resolutions to improve their health, write more, change careers, be kinder, etc. Last year my resolution was to post every day on this blog, which in hindsight was rather lofty and after two weeks, I failed. In fact, I didn’t post a single entry all of February 2017. But after that mishap, I picked myself up and tried to be a little more realistic. This year I wrote over sixty posts, and from March to December I averaged roughly a post a week. Honestly, that I didn’t give up blogging entirely impresses me.

My goals in 2018 range from traveling more, improving my Spanish and meditating in the mornings, but my goals for my blog are a little different. Originally, this blog was just for poetry, but I slowly began to branch out and this year I want to expand even more by posting more monthly playlists, writing lifestyle posts and a few travel guides and recommendations. This year I want to aim for two posts a week, one being  a writing post as usual, but the other on a different topic. I already know that I will be missing a significant part of the year as I will be living in Tijuana, Mexico again (likely with no wifi or way to access the internet), but I still plan to write vignettes and poems while I am there, hopefully to post at a later date.

Thanks to everyone who has read my silly posts and for sticking with me in this absurd year. Happy New Year!

put your records on: december 2017

I make monthly playlists, and in my effort to continue not having a niche I thought I would start linking these and describe my favorites from the month. To be clear, not every song on the playlist is a song that I really like, just songs I listened to. So here’s the breakdown of my december 2017 playlist.

december 2017

I was in San Francisco for my visa appointment at the beginning of the month and got the chance to visit Haight-Ashbury and some classic hippie spots. As such I added songs by The Doors, The Grateful Dead, The Mamas & The Papas, Janis Joplin etc. Then there’s a couple songs by one of my favorite artists Tom Rosenthal, who if you don’t know, you really should. His work is simultaneously both innocent and really vulnerable. Somehow I had missed “Toby Carr’s Difficult Relationship with Tuna” in Rosenthal’s catalogue; it was recommended to me and is quite wonderful. I have also recently been into Betty Who especially “Mama Say” which I may or may not have played on repeat during my greyhound bus trip from North Carolina to Georgia.  Some other nice surprises were “Seeing Blind”, Nial Horan’s collaboration with Maren Morris, not least because of the Fleetwood Mac reference, “Wolves” by Selena Gomez, and “If I Dare” by Sara Bareilles (for the Billy Jean King movie Battle of the Sexes).

There is, of course, Christmas music, but that can all be found on my holiday playlist very merry.

i can’t write: exercise #4 (unholy)

From a one word prompt: Confess

i confess to not reading the word everyday
to being unkind to my family
my younger sisters
to not praying
and judging my neighbors
my faith fraying
at the seams of some old persian carpet
brought from babylon back to jerusalem

hear the cries of one mother
and her community has shut her out
but dare she not keep the child
dare she hushed and shot at
the babe wrapped not in swaddling clothes
but in shame and accident and lust
dare she
what sin, what great murderess
she does what she feels she must

i confess i am not who i say i am
i ask and plead
wax and wain about serving the poor, justice
i am a fraud
unholy, yet still loved by thee
how can i
wrapped in love still stuttering
finding myself stuck in the mud
there is no saving light
no angel to pull me out
i do what i feel i must
sit and write and go off the path
only to come back
with nothing else
“please help me, i am lost, i know not where i am
what i have wrought with these small hands
please take me in, and sin which holds me

and so i confess
i confess
i confess
until all is gone
and i still unholy, am pure
washed in blood of some savior
only to do it all again