Paper -to my canvas

You breathe me to life
As you simultaneously
Take my breath away
-to you.

What I've learned
Is
You only have so many years
To love yourself
Without
Waiting to be better
Next year.
-to me.

It's scary,
That's okay.
-to anxiety.

I can't forget
That what you gave me
I already had
You just recognized it
-to remembering.

I think back
As
I think forward
Where is now
-to the present.

I don't go
Anywhere
But
Find myself everywhere
-to being lost.

I blindly see
You
As if
I can keep
My eyes closed
-to believing.

How are we supposed to know
Maybe we're not
-to uncertainty.

Are windows
Only for dreamers
-to the backseat.

Are skylines
Only for believers
-to New York City.


What's lost in him
Will never be found in me
Only him
-to you, always.

What's lost in me
Will never be found in him
Only me
-to me, eternally.

What a beautiful disaster
It is
That love
Is all around us
Giving us the tragic
Decision
Of which house
To make
A home
-to the future

If I can't
Change
The weather
At least
Let me sit with
You
Through the storm
-to my strong friend

If I run
And
Jump
Do you catch me
Or
Did I already
Win
-to the race

If you gave me the
Beat
I'd give you my
Heart
-to the musician

I wish
Heart tears
Were easier to sew
Without
The needle
Poking
-to heartbreak

It's the bravery of you
Women
That make me
Brave
Too
-to bikinis

Don't let any
Boy
Ask you to open your
Legs
Before he has the courage to open your
Mind
-to my girls.

They don't know it
But
I need them more than they need
Me
-to my little sisters.

I give you
Control
Only to steal it
Back
-to my mind.

I forgive you
For making me
Just a friend
To all your
Friends
-to my brother

I believe in you
-to vulnerability

I don't know how
You were able to keep me
Grounded
Rooted
While letting me
Grow into my own
Tree
That lost leaves with the
Seasons
And learned to withstand the
Wind
But always stood
Tall.
Thank you
-to mom & dad

You showed
Me
That words are more
Powerful
Than anything
Else
-to books

I can see
But I can't look around
I can't glance at the
Stars
For fear of
Not being aware of my
Surroundings
I miss the
Stars
-to the walk home at night

The Author

Isn’t it silly how we’re always trying to pencil in the next chapter before finishing the previous one. We turn the pages so quickly as if we have to finish the story before the words get erased. The pages slip so rapidly through our fingers that we often forget what the story is even about. We reminisce on old chapters, remembering that one page we folded, as if the fold would make the memory last forever. Bookmarks become the times we want to just quit reading, because we don’t understand anymore. Words blur together as our eyes fall tired. The book feels heavy and complicated. The things we predicted would happen, don’t. Plot twists aren’t as exciting as they are frightening. We get mad at the author, as if it’s all their fault.

But as the chapters go on, we start to understand the story. The characters that remain have clear significance and the timing of each theme becomes relevant. We learn that there is no erasing only reinterpreting. We welcome the uncertainty of chapter seven, just as we accept the expiration of chapter six. We know now that we can’t plan for the ending, but we can trust the author.

Rain & Rake

My dad is a bloom where you're planted guy. 

My mom is a the grass is always greener girl. 

It's been one of the greatest joys of my life watching them cultivate the garden. 

Hotchcreek Penitentiary

Where are Tom, Billy, Joe, Jerry, and Fred,

The bruiser, the lover, the forgiver, the mistake, and the bitter one?

All, all are breathing, breathing behind bars.

 

One couldn’t withstand the withdrawals,

One was too addicted to the game,

One was in the wrong place at the wrong time,

One didn’t love his wife,

One couldn’t say no to the thrill,

All, all are behind bars.

 

Where are Sam, Lisa, Maggie, Nicole, and Laura,

The sweet soul, the lost, the forgotten, the fighter, the one who gave up?

All, all, are breathing, breathing behind bars.

 

One was born into the hood,

One was traded in for money,

One sold her body for green,

One forgot she had kids at home,

One couldn’t live without the high,

All, all are behind bars.

 

Where are Lily, Heather, Jack, and Ryan?

The too young to understand, the hateful, the rebel, and the one who still believes?

 

One is waiting for Daddy to come home,

One will never forget,

One lashes out at the world,

One is pretending it’s all okay.

All, all are on the outside of Hotchcreek Penitentiary.

 

Lily doesn’t know that Daddy has 60 years to life,

Heather doesn’t trust anyone who comes near,

And Jack makes sure enemies know their place,

And Ryan keep the candle lit every night.

All, all are on the outside of Hotchcreek Penitentiary.

 

Where is grandpa Don

Who snuck the kids candy after 8,

And washed down the day with a can or two,

Wishing, wondering, when the good Lord would come.

One night of too many, and the blur of the buzz,

There he lie on the cold metal of the cell,

Not heaven, not hell, but behind bars?

 

Oh! The mistakes and memories lost,

A life of regret and a home too cold to bear,

Of love and loss and despair,

One time to life behind the rows steel.

 

 

Tom Keagan

Here I lie on the cold bunked bed,

Right under Billy from the Southside,

Who didn’t have much time for the sober life,

And quivered to sleep the whole first month.

I didn’t quite understand the addiction,

For I was attached to a different high,

A game full of weapons and hate and regrets,

And too much blood on the street to clean,

But hearts of gold if you dig deep.

Mine was gold once too, until the trigger turned it black.

Now I rot in this cage with the pain painted in my soul,

Restless while getting too much rest, absorbed by the cell.

 

 

Billy Nook

The needles became painless,

But the high never stopped.

When Jane walked in the bathroom,

Where I lie on the floor in a daze of despair,

I knew I couldn’t be the husband she always deserved.

Jane left with the kids the next day,

And I opened the box that I kept under my bed,

Full of cures to numb the pain.

When the eviction sign got pinned on the door,

I knew I had to get back in the game.

The money started flowing in and I couldn’t let go,

The red and blue lights flashed so bright that night,

The next morning when the high wore off,

I was on the inside with nowhere to go but back to bed,

Tom peeked up from the bottom bunk and said,

Better get comfortable.

 

Joe Branson

It wasn’t supposed to be like this,

I didn’t mean to end up here.

But the business was going under,

My dad handed me gold and I turned it to bronze,

I had to something before he knew the truth,

One transaction later and we were back on top,

The account was located far from the city,

And the firewalls could never be broken.

Then on July 17th, the cops showed up and came straight for the office,

Hands behind my back and chains around my wrists,

Sweat dripping through my Ralph Lauren purple polo,

I said goodbye to the business and the fresh air,

Into the dungeon I went wearing the orange jumpsuit and all,

My roommate Jerry seemed like a good guy,

Until he told me what he was in for.

 

Jerry Johnson

I walked by the house everyday,

I wanted that car no matter what I had to do,

It was on the other side of town and I had to make it quick,

It wasn’t my first time and it all went perfectly,

Except one casualty that couldn’t be avoided,

He saw me crack the window and came out swinging,

I had to make him stop.

The blue showed up at my spot the next day,

Now all I see are these brick walls.

Nothing breaks me until Lily and Nick come to visit,

Being their dad wasn’t something I always wanted,

I messed up more times than not.

But when I look in their eyes I want to get out,

Out of this shit and make myself a better man,

Give them the life I never got,

And keep them away from Tony’s crew.

I still think about the way those wheels turned,

But if I ever make it out alive,

The only spot I’ll know is the one where the bus stops.

 

Sam Larson

I didn’t think anything of it at first,

The late nights at work and the perfume stained shirts.

Kevin had always been a fair man,

One with pride and prudery and heart.

The kind of man who wouldn’t commit any evil,

Not murder, nor theft, nor adultery.

Until he did.

Judy was the office secretary,

A long-legged, perfect-smile, fair-skinned, force of a woman.

She was young and naïve but most definitely not shy.

She took Kevin away in the hours of the night,

To a warm bed that wasn’t hers to share.

I didn’t want to cause any harm,

But the sun went down and Kev was still away.

I drove to her house on Cherry Lane,

And poured the gasoline all over the porch.

I gave up cigarettes long ago,

But that night I lit one up,

And smoked in to the end,

Dropped in on the wood,

And walked away from the heat of the flames.

I don’t feel heat anymore between these bleak walls,

Just cold air from the dusty cracks.

 

Maggie Donavon

Sam snores in her sleep and it brings me back,

To wanting to cause pain to those who aren’t owed any,

The confines of my mind can do crazy things,

Things that make me believe what I did was okay,

My daughter was only 5 when I left her all alone,

She could barely sleep at night knowing that mommy was gone.

I couldn’t live without the thrill,

When my ex showed me the lab back in 98’,

I was hooked and cooked until my fingers turned numb,

This stuff sold like gold,

Everyone in town was asking who I was,

The fame and the delirium kept me floating,

The doors busted down,

And know all I feel is drowning,

The water fills my lungs every night as I gasp for air,

I never learned to swim,

But this place is the deep end,

And you sure as hell have to tread on.

 

Ryan Pantaski

My dad told me it was just temporary,

That once he made enough to pay it off he would quit.

I was only 9 when I heard the shots,

I hid under my bed until the sun came up.

I never heard him come home but I didn’t want to know.

Did he pull the trigger or did the bullets blow him?

I found out soon enough when child protective services showed up at my door,

The lady had fiery red hair and a voice full of phony.

After years of bitter and brawls,

I made it to 18 and never looked back.

My dad rots in prison,

Visitation is on Sundays,

I went once,

Only to say,

I hope it feels like hell in here,

Because out there the devil doesn’t care who he burns,

You burned me dad,

And those scars don’t heal.

 

 

 

 

Otherness

It’s the day we went to the beach just as the sun peaked above the boundless salt water. Sand crinkled in between our toes as blood pumped all too rapidly to our hearts. Foreign gravity was no match for our detached beings. In the topography of unfamiliar, I was anything but alone. My mind was at ease, while a tornado warning implanted in my gut, knowing the sun doesn’t shine forever. The brisk air clashes with the heat of the sun and fogs the window. Slow beats hum in the background of the 2003 motor. Sunlight turns to a green light as defrost steals the moment. Head nod released, stare softened, it was all just a window daze.

Platonic Fable

In a room full of paint splattered canvases, he was the most complex. A mystery of love and art untold. “Just friends,” I would say. The perfect platonic fable. Standing here, years passed, has unwilling vulnerability warranted a missed chance? The day is simple, but the feeling tugs intricacy. He knows me more than i’ll admit. My brick wall becomes transparent glass when he glances over. Shattered to pieces, I crack. The impenetrability sets in. Close enough to the impulse, I run. The next display is full of pieces from a man that will never compare to the one standing in the other room. Just friends, it is.

Stop Asking

So there’s this really weird, interesting, problematic question people keep asking me. The conversation usually starts with a simple and easy, “Hey, how are you?” Then, the conversation instantly takes a turn for the worst, to which the person proceeds to ask me, “What are your plans after graduation?” WTF. All I want to do is punch them in the face (I’m a pacifist) and scream IDK YOU IDIOT. I get it, they are just trying to make effortless conversation, but I mean c’mon there is no question on the planet that is more anxiety-producing than asking a distraught college student what they plan to do for the rest of their lives.

After the short-lived conversation, which I always cut short due to my annoyance of its entirety, I immediately question my existence on planet earth. Haha okay just kidding. But I do, no matter how many times the question surfaces, find myself questioning WHAT THE HELL I’M GOING TO DO. And should I know? Should I have it all planned out? Written in my planner with my flights booked to the new city I’m going to move to where I’ll start my new great job. I’m supposed to have that all figured out, right?

I look around, I compare, I envy. I feel as if, well, maybe people do have it all figured out. I mean that girl over there did intern at Nike last summer. And that guy sitting in the corner is the president of student government. Shit, what am I?

I have a plethora of post-grad dreams. All which seem absolutely unattainable. Should I move to Bali and study meditation? Should I go teach English in South America? Should I go move to New York and hopefully start working right away? Should I move back in with my parents? What should I do? There’s like a genie somewhere who has all these answers, right? At the end of the day, I know there is truly not a “wrong” path to take. But what’s the best path? This chapter in life is so much different than any other transition I have yet endured. When it came time to move away from home and choose a college, I wasn’t all that nervous because I knew that there wasn’t necessarily any permanency to my decision. If I didn’t like the school I chose,I could transfer. If I didn’t like school, I could find a different passion. Whatever it was that I didn’t like, I would be young enough, able enough, to find a different path. This time it’s different. This time it feels like my next decision dictates the better part of, well, the rest of my life. Where you choose to settle down, plant roots, make friends, sets the groundwork for how the remainder of your days will play out. I know that sounds dramatic, but if you really think about it, it’s true. If I move back with my parents will I feel stuck? If I move somewhere else will I feel lonely?

I’d love to say that I’ve come to some epiphany about this whole post-grad idea, but I definitely have not. I want to end this blog on a really positive it-will-be-alright-because-everything-happens-for-a-reason note, but fuck it, I’ freaking out.

*There’s a reason this blog is primarily questions*

S.O.S

I think one of the most difficult aspects of working in advertising is the constraints of time. Storytelling needs to be nurtured. Yet, I am constantly impressed by what people can do with limited time, resources, etc. The power a story holds can be eternal and the work these two young creatives did is absolutely remarkable.

How I feel about the refugee crisis…

Horrible. Upset. Heartbroken.

It’s easy to forgot that this crisis isn’t happening when you are not geographically near this war zone. But they horrific lives these refugees are enduring is tragic. I am so disappointed in the prejudice surrounding countries are holding against these struggling humans. How can we be so cruel? As cliché as it may be, has everyone forgotten the American proverb “don’t judge a man until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes”? Have we forgotten to imagine ourselves in a situation where maybe, just maybe we would be the ones in need of the help. The salvation. Whenever I’m feeling judgmental I always, always, always put myself in the shoes of the thing/person at hand and remember to walk in their shoes first. I wish more people were willing to do this in regards to the refugee crisis. At the end of the day it doesn’t come down to politics, religion, or resources. It comes down to our human duty to protect and care for the people on this planet. And we should want to.

WATCH ME 

Haiku, you?

Palindrome I am

And just like that I can see

in both directions.

 

Bras you suffocate

Me and I hate you a lot

So, I unclip you.

 

Sometimes I wonder

If we will meet again in

The right place, right time.

 

Same song on repeat

As I try to feel feelings

You once made me feel.

 

Sugar why do you

Have to be so damn good and

Make me feel like shit.

 

You sleep in the street

And I remember how good

My life really is.

 

In the darkness of

The night I scoot closer

To the empty space.

 

Isn’t it funny

how the sky will always be

there when you look up.

Invisible Illness

The somatic tenderness. The tingling veins. The pounding cranium. The anxiety. It’s a word used more often than not. A word that people use situationally when the word shouldn’t bare authority. The disease that plagues more than 40 million people worldwide. The most common mental illness in the United States. Thrown around like it’s a linguistic toy?

Like global warming mental illness has the power to destroy the human race. The nice thing is, you can physically see the polar ice caps melting knowing full well the destruction global warming will cause. But what if you couldn’t see a worldwide epidemic? You know what they say, “seeing is believing.”  

This time it’s different. This pandemic is invisible to the naked eye. This time we have to believe what we cannot see. It's time to stand up for mental illness. Period.

 

HUMAN

There is so much shit going on in the world right now. It seems like every day I wake up there is another shooting, another terrorist attack, or some more bullshit from Donald Trump. Everyone and everything seems to be divided in one way or another, whether it be geographically, racially, or sexually, everyone has been focusing on our differences. STOP. What would happen if we all focused on the one thing that made us all the same? Do people even know the answer to that question? People would be like wtf, we’re not all the same. If I asked people what we all had in common, I bet I would get a variety of responses. Maybe along the lines of “well, I don’t know, we all have to eat to survive.” Or, “we all need money.” At which point I would probably go scream in my pillow so frustrated that nobody can see the simplest commonality we all possess. WE ARE ALL HUMAN BEINGS.

I came across a beautiful piece of work that completely destroys any validity nationalism carries. I’m not saying that it’s unimportant to be prideful about who you are and where you came from. Be prideful. What you cannot be is hateful, arrogant, superior. We are all related. We are all creatures of the same planet. Let’s start thinking about our existence in the rawest form, humanly. Our differences are beautiful. But, let’s not let our differences make us forget that we are all still one in the same. Watch this. Believe this. Preach this. 

 

 

Wee-fee (Wifi en Español)

In America we don’t even think about it. We rarely even consider the fact that you won’t have access to our ever-so-precious social media apps. Raise your hand if almost every day when you wake up, the first thing you do is scroll through Instagram, Facebook, or some other kind of pass-time social media. We are obsessed. And for good reason. It’s fun, it’s informative, and it’s entertaining. But… what if we didn’t have constant access to our social platforms?

When I first arrived in Spain I immediately realized how incredibly unprepared I was. I stepped off the plane and turned my phone off airplane mode. Then, I thought, shit I can’t turn my data on, that will cost hundreds. My dad told me to keep my phone on airplane mode but it didn’t even register with me that meant I couldn’t open any form of social media. WHAT. I thought to myself how am I going to go a whole semester not being able to freely access Instagram every day. Sad. Was I really that addicted? And was it my fault? Or has American culture created a social media consumed atmosphere where it has become normal to be glued to our online personas.

The first couple weeks were challenging. I started to realize how much I depended on my social media to fill the void during times of boredom. It was the simplest times when it dawned on me that I would usually be scrolling through Instagram right then if I could. Times like sitting on the toilet (sorry, we all know it’s true), waiting for the metro, or even sadly during times like dinner with friends when there was a silent break to fill. I felt frustrated. How could I feel frustrated by something like that when I was in a beautiful foreign country. Why are we so dependent on these communication mediums?

I started to learn. I started how to learn how to be present. How to not make every moment I spent in Spain something that was “Instagram worthy.” It wasn’t easy. We are so programmed to make our lives look better than they feel. It’s a mental game.

I remember a particular moment while I was sitting in my adorable, mountain village in Spain waiting for a friend. I sat on a stone bench in the middle of the plaza where I had planned to meet my friend. I was early. As I waited, I looked down at the small piece of technology in my hand and thought how the hell does this tangible object control so much of my time, my emotions, my life. I had only been in Spain a couple weeks and I was still adjusting to this new in-the-moment lifestyle. But it finally hit me. In that simple moment, on a cold bench, all alone, I looked up. I mean really looked up. I looked around. And then I forgot that there was even something in my hand. My phone became lighter in my palm and I observed what was happening all around me. I didn’t think about lifting up my phone to snap a photo of this moment so I could show everyone I was having a “moment.” I just lived in that moment, as it was my moment, for my eyes only.

I smiled. I felt brave. I think social media makes us feel fear. Fearful to live our lives in way that wouldn’t be an Instagram post. And I know it takes bravery to be in the moment, just to be in the moment. And I know it’s the same old message about how social media can be detrimental to our lives. I don’t think that’s true. I think social media can be a wonderful thing. But, I also think we need to learn that it doesn’t get to control our image. Be brave. Be brave enough to have moments that you allow to just be for you. Look up, everyone.

 

 

 

Silencio Incómodo

My first couple days living with my new Spanish host family were nothing short of freaking awkward. I thought to myself, if only I could wear a Go-Pro around, I would have an award winning comedy called “Awkward American Girl Living in a Spanish Home.”  Needless to say, anxiety was through the roof, stomach was uneasy, phone calls to mom were frequent and the only things I could seem to mutter were “sí” and “me gusta.”

Awkward silence: A period of silence during a conversation between individuals that is incredibly awkward where both parties feel there is a void to fill with words.

Here’s the thing. I wouldn’t say I was a ‘strong’ Spanish speaker when I decided, hmm I’m going to go to Spain for a semester to do a Spanish immersion program. It all seemed dreamy in my head. I would meet a handsome Spanish man who would buy me wine and tutor me every week. I would talk to the locals, I would attend local festivals and before I knew it I would be a thriving Spanish speaking goddess.

HAHAHAHAHA.

No. That, my friends, is what we call unrealistic. It’s partly my own wondering mind that thinks everything is romantic and easy. Let me tell you, learning a new language is neither romantic nor easy. In fact, it’s embarrassing, awkward, and hard. as. hell. If I’ve learned nothing else, I have learned how to be gracefully awkward. Is that a thing?

The point/learning value: It’s a-okay to be painfully, uncomfortably, tear-wrenchingly awkward. We have this ‘thing’ in America where everything is ‘awkward.’ We get a little embarrassed and oh my god it was the most awkward thing ever!!!

Well, until you’ve lived in a home with strangers in a different country, whose language you are really shitty at, you don’t really know ‘awkward.’ My host family and I ate three meals a day together. That might not seem like that big of a deal but when you have nothing else to talk about but the ingredients in a Spanish ketchup bottle, you find yourself questioning if you ever even developed social skills. I felt so incredibly frustrated by the humdrum conversations due to the lack of linguistic capabilities. It seemed silly. They are just as human as I.

Then, one day I thought about it differently. I didn’t sit at the dinner table and think oh my god this is so awkward; someone please say something. I just sat there and tried to think of the silence as peaceful rather than uncomfortable. I looked around the table at my host parents and sisters and no one seemed to be fidgeting or brainstorming the next topic of conversation. Everyone was just eating. And that was okay.

Lightbulb! They didn’t think silence was awkward. I was the only one at that table that felt such distress about silence. Why does silence have to be so awkward? It doesn’t, I learned. The silence became fulfilling in a sense. I started to appreciate the Spanish culture for the way that nothing was forced. They never tried to force unneeded conversation. The silence was okay. The silence was welcomed. Now, instead of reading the same calendar in the kitchen when I feel uncomfortable during meal times, I accept the silence. I like the silence.