Poetry Blog Tour

Thanks to Matt Bryden for tagging me.
What am I working on?
     Poetry-wise I feel like there are two “themes” I’ve been focusing on lately. I’m fascinated by people who have no interest in making genuine connections with others, but really want to look good or be envied by others, so they focus on the outer aspect of themselves. It’s the perfect pair of expensive shoes; the boyfriend who looks good on paper, but has no real interest in life or their partner. It’s the vacation to an exotic local with “friends” who will forget about you once you get back home, but wanted something to brag about on their fb/instagram.
     I’ve written a few poems that have an element of Americana to them. I’m interested in kitsch, and the open road. Maybe it has to do with growing up along Route 66, and seeing all of the abandoned motels and roadside curiosity shops. 
      I’ve also been trying to write a piece about my first year abroad, and the people I encountered. It started out as set of poems, but I’m trying to make it into something a bit lengthier and more cohesive. 
How does my work differ from others of its genre?

     I think I tend to fall more on the side of “confessional poet,” but I also like to write about other people and focus on their stories—even if they’re really small, subtle moments. I prefer free verse, but I sometimes wonder if that’s because my mentors wrote mostly free verse, or because I overused rhyme when I “wrote” in high school. I wish I could be a bit more political, but I always feel like it sounds false/trite when I try to write something. That doesn’t mean I’ll stop trying.

Why do I write what I do?
     My interest in poetry began when I was 11, and my language arts teacher read e.e. cummings’ “in Just-” something clicked. We’d occasionally write poems in high school, and there were certain phrases and images from my classmates’ poems that stayed with me. It took me a long time to really find a “home” though. It wasn’t until I was a freshman at UNM where I had some guidance, and found the kind of poems I wanted to write. I had an instructor who would read poems from Sandra Cisneros, and Belle Waring—and even my instructor’s own poems were pieces I really connected with. They were exploring elements of culture, and relationships–and I couldn’t stop reading.
      When I write, there’s something that gets stuck in my mind or there’s something I have to say. I need to solve an element of someone or a situation. I think I’ve always used it as a way to try to figure things out—even back in high school when I was writing those horrible teen poems (I think most of us have those hidden somewhere).
How does my writing process work?
      There isn’t a specific time or place where I write (which I kind of miss since I’ve been back in the states). It usually starts with an image or phrase stuck in my mind. I have a notebook with me the majority of the time so I can make notes. I have had to stop myself from thinking about poems when I’m going to bed or driving or in the shower because “I’ll write it down later” never seems to happen.
      Once I get the phrase/image down, I’ll start writing ideas that connect to it; occasionally the majority of the poem will follow, but most of the time I have to let it marinate for a while. I try to make minor changes as I go along. I generally won’t share a poem until I’m happy with where it is. Sometimes it’s a very rough piece, and other times it’s closer to being “finished.” I have two writer friends (Lisa Phillips and Athena Copenhaver) look it over. They are extremely helpful, and provide excellent feedback. 
Up next on the poetry blog tour: Hannah Chutzpah and Krystalli Glyniadakis.

Red Umbrella Day 2012

Red Umbrella Day

Yesterday, for the second year in a row, I participated in Red Umbrella Day  (International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers ). I learn so much from these events, and there is still so much work to do when it comes to making sure sex workers are safe, and respected.

We walked down one of our city’s main roads, carrying signs that read “Consent is Sexy,” “Sex Work is Real Work,” and “Respect Sex Workers.” We then participated in a candle light vigil and read off the names of victims who were killed in the last year.

Here are the names I read, and some info :

January Marie Lapuz –Age: 26  –From: Westminster, BC, Canada –Date: September 30 2012 –info: Transgender sex worker

Jessie Anne Wilson –From: Mt. Gambier, Australia –Date: October 1, 2012

15 Women –From: Rwanda –Date: September, 2012 –info: Unknown if connected mostly sex workers.

Julia –From: Kirovograd, Ukraine –Date: 2012

Karima –From: Limoges, France –Date: 2012 –info: Transgender, suicide

Maria Felix –From: Antigua and Barbuda –Date: 2012

Marland Anderson –Age: 39 –From:Los Angeles, CA –Date: April 8, 2012 –info: Undetermined cause of death, following altercation with LAPD.

Mike –From: Vancouver, BC, Canada –Date: 2012 –info: Vietnamese male escort.

You can find the full list of names from this year here: 2012 Names

The cumulative  list of names can be found here: List of Names

Violence against sex workers is under-reported, and ignored. One of the organizers for the event said that often police reports involving the assault/murder  of sex workers contain the language NHI or No Humans Involved. I found this particular bit of information, incredibly disturbing.  Remember, we are all someone’s child.

It’s important to listen to the voices, and know the names of the people who were lost because our society is indifferent and ignorant. They are worthy of being noticed and heard.

Just A Girl

 The "new" Gamma Girl
I posted this a few years ago on an old blog, but I feel it will tie into future posts.

Monday, December 3, 2007

The summer before my senior year of high school Newsweek printed this article Meet The Gamma Girls Newsweek Culture Newsweek.com. It’s about the three types of girls that exist within girl culture: the Alpha females, the Betas, and the Gammas. According to the article, the alpha female is best characterized by the various incarnations of high school girls Kirsten Dunst portrayed (this was around her Bring it Ondays). The alpha is able to find a balance between being “bitchy and nice”. The beta is the wannabe alpha, doing whatever she can to get people to like her. Then we have the focus of this article, “The Gamma Girl”. According to the author of the article the Gamma girl pretty much walks on water. She’s pretty, funny, smart, involved in sports and her community, she has her own ideas. She’s made of awesomeness.I’ll be honest, when read the article at 16 I was thrilled by the idea of the Gamma Girl because I identified with her. In the original article they had this chart of who each girl could be compared to Hollywood-wise, a list of her “interests”, and a brief description of her. “She loves Shakespeare!” Check. “She thinks Gwen Stefani rocks!” Check. “Her Hollywood crush is Tobey Maguire!” …errr Check?! My favorite part was the ideal Gamma Girl, Julia Stiles. Oh, how I adored Julia Stiles.
I found this article at work today, and I began thinking about the whole concept of Alphas vs Betas and Gammas (who avoids competing with alphas and betas). I’ve been thinking about these labels the past couple of months. Usually I applied them to men as I had been watching The Pickup Artist, which basically transforms beta males into alpha males (or so they say…). In the article, example of the “alpha female” is a blond narcissist, who will basically do anything to remain popular, and appears to have zero intellectual capabilities. This characterization contradicts the description on the handy little chart they provide us with, which tells us the alpha is aiming for an Ivy education (Princeton), and is heavily involved with student council. Hmm. Perhaps, the girls the article (not the chart, mind you) deemed as “alphas” are really “betas”?I’m beginning to wonder if there are any real alpha females out there, or if we label the pretty betas “alphas” because they whip their claws out to keep others in their place. Let’s think about it, would and actual alpha who can maintain a balance between being “bitchy and nice” (re: be assertive), resort to catty passive-aggressive ways? Would popularity matter to her? Honestly? What if the gamma girl, is really an Alpha in disguise? Maybe she got tired of some vapid eternal adolescent trying to compete with her, so she took herself out of the race by creating a new category?

You drive me crazy…

For the last few cycles, I’ve avoided America’s Next Top Model; I don’t know how or why, but I got sucked into watching this season.  Over the past few weeks we’ve gotten to know contestant Alexandria Everett, who has managed to piss off all of her housemates.

On last week’s episode, things reached the boiling point when Alexandria won the challenge and ended up with a brand new Ford Focus.  To say the other girls were disappointed would be an understatement, but the most vocal of the group was Brittani–who couldn’t help but bitch to the other contestants. Unfortunately, she was overheard by the client, and Nigel Barker who brought these shenanigans up at panel. During the confrontation and again, when the issue was brought up in front of the judges, Alexandria was amazing. She knew exactly how to play the “poor little me” role and get Tyra’s sympathy, while Brittani came off a little cray-cray.

I have to take Brittani’s side in the drama-fest, I’ve lived with crazy passive aggressive people. The problem with people like Alexandria is,  they can be these wonderful rays of sunshine with those that they believe to be important, or those that just blindly think they’re super. However, if you don’t fit into either group, they really don’t mind making your life miserable. They’re also seasoned performers who know how turn on the waterworks to get out of situations. Once during a confrontation with a roommate over something mundane, she tried to fake cry. Alexandria also employs this tactic.

But, Brittani is young. She hasn’t learned to pick her battles. Nor has she learned who to engage with and who ignore. There’s a saying I like to keep in mind when dealing with people like Alexandria, “the more you try to prove someone’s crazy, the crazier you look.”  I know plenty of people who haven’t caught on to that idea, and there are times when I struggle with it. The thing to remember is, people reveal who they truly are. For a time they may have others fooled, but eventually other people will realize something isn’t right.

“For Good…”

On Valentine’s Day we all tend to think about the loves in our lives;  thanks to the commercialism of the holiday, they tend to be thoughts focusing on our romantic escapades.  In previous years I’ve wondered about loves gone wrong, and on some occasions I was hoping for a new love to blossom. This year I broke with tradition, and thought about the warm fuzzy feelings I have for my friends.

For the past few months I’ve been thinking about who fits into my life, who’s a good friend, and who makes me want to be a better friend. I suppose this is a constant process because life is always changing, people are on their own metaphorical paths and sometimes they really don’t coincide with yours. Yeah, it’s frustrating to watch a once beautiful friendship fall apart for whatever reason it does. It’s even more maddening to be the only one who sees that things are no longer working, but I digress.

The reason I’ve been pondering who I want in my circle of friends, is because these are some of the most important relationships we will ever have with other human beings. However, they don’t get the same treatment that romantic relationships do. Do you know how hard it is to find a best friend?  I’m talking about a true best friend who loves you even when you’re talking shit about the girl who was checking out the guy you’re into. The person  you can call early in the morning because you upset about something, whether it be a relationship that failed or the fact that your story/poem got rejected. The friend that will actually listen to you vent, instead of making blanket statements because said friend likes to think they’re an enlightened individual; but really they just like the sound of their own voice. Write me a screenplay about that, Nora Ephron.

Then there’s trying to find a group of female friends who can coexist peacefully without some weird psychological shit going on. Oh, it happens, and I’ve witnessed it plenty of times, but finding the right chemistry and balance is a tricky task. Look at the friendship dynamics in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants versus Now and Then, or Sex and the City (the tv show, those movies never happened) v. Desperate Housewives. Finding friends who get along with each other, or who are capable of having a deep connection with you is not as easy as pie.

We also have to maintain friendships once we’ve made them. I understand that anything that requires direct contact with a person is a bit more difficult to do than written communication. There have been times I’ve had some serious “games” of phone-tag going on, or one of us had to cancel for whatever reason. However, replying to an email and Facebook message is a little easier to work out. Yes, at times we fail to reply to an email or snail mail(sorry!), but at the end of they day it’s the minimum effort letting people know how you’re doing and showing that you in fact care about them and want to know about their lives. Communicating is such a big part in an ever evolving friendship that it’s sort of ridiculous how we let it fall apart.

Look, I had a pretty traumatic experience with a friend not returning a phone call. My friend knew she was dying, but didn’t tell me.  I called her to wish her a happy holidays/see how she was,  she didn’t return my call and died a few weeks later. I found out she died via Facebook invite to her memorial service. Yes, I should probably let it go, but I’m still angry. I’m mad about the fact she didn’t give me the chance to say goodbye to her and that the last few times we hung out together she was on business calls  the majority of the time. I suppose the latter taught me to be “there” with the person I’m hanging out with instead of checking my phone. I feel the whole experience opened my eyes to cherishing the friends that are in my life now.

We (or maybe it’s just me), need to embrace the friendships we have, see the potential in the new ones and appreciate the ones that are no longer active in our lives.  We need to say, “thank you for being a friend.” There are so many memories I keep close to me: the diet coke pow-wows, coffee and lunch dates, crazy train rides through France, stealing cake, re-enacting ANTM, dancing like a fool and not caring,  the poetry meetings, wandering through bookstores, tarot readings, car tag and teasing our hair. Thank you for everything, my friends! I love you.

Get Over It!

December 13th, 2008
The people on the  Television Without Pity boards are reviewing the “no holds barred” interview with Britney Spears. The consensus seems to be that at the age of 27 she is unable to take responsibility for her actions and continues to blame others. Understandably being the family’s cash cow has contributed to this issue, but I started wondering, when do people stop taking responsibility for their actions and instead are oh so willing to point the finger at anyone but themselves?I know at times I have been quick to find someone else to blame for problems, and I will probably do it again. Lately I have been thinking of a quote my mother used to constantly repeat in my adolescence, “when you blame others, you give up the power to change.” Four years safely distanced from my teenaged self I can most definitely say I agree with this, however I start wonder about people who have a fear of change. I think back to Buffy Becoming(part 1) when Whistler states, “no one asks for their life to change, not really. But it does.” There are times when I can identify with this idea, because I actually look forward to finding a routine once my life has been interrupted. At the same time there have been moments when I have willingly plotted out how I wanted my life to transform and took steps towards making that leap. But I digress; I can’t help but feel that perhaps this whole fear of change leads us to blame others. Maybe we aren’t really ready to see the changes in ourselves; maybe we’re afraid to get to know who we really are without an identifying factor in our lives. If this is true, are we so willing to be so unaware of who we really are? Perhaps, we will never be comfortable with our weaknesses and misguided judgments and find it easier to look elsewhere. Even when we see ourselves as victims in situations, is it possible that we found something that we didn’t like, and might have in fact disturbed us? Are we ever really blameless? Maybe it doesn’t really matter if we are.

In the end Whistler is right, those “moments are gonna come, you can’t help that. It’s what you do afterwards that counts. That’s when you find out who you are.” So who are we?

“I will miss…the most mundane things.”

I see in them little details so specific to each of them that move me and that I miss, and…will always miss.” —Celine, Before Sunset

One of my dear friends joined Facebook a few weeks ago; which meant I had to go back and find photos that she was in, and tag her.  There’s one picture taken 4 years ago featuring the two of us and a girl we were friends with at the time; we’re making funny faces and you can tell we’re having a blast. Over the past few years since the photo was taken, the girl and I had a spectacular falling out and haven’t spoken in over a year.  I think their friendship is at a delicate stage, but I’m not sure to what extent. My friend told me that she doubted the three of us would ever be able to take a picture like that again.  Some days I think about messaging  the girl and saying that I wish we could go back to that time, where everything was natural and it seemed like we all cared about each other. Knowing how she is as a person, I doubt it would mean much. Where do you go after saying something like that? I wonder about all the words hanging in the air.

So many things go unsaid. There’s that one sentence that if I had said, maybe things would be different now. There are a whole lot of sentences I should have said to various people. I should probably still say them. They aren’t necessarily “I love you,” or “I miss you.” Sometimes they’re along the lines of “we’re not so different,” or “I would like your advice,” or “I know about the things you don’t say, but I’m okay with them.”

I’ve been thinking about the film, Before Sunset. Over the past few years that movie has connected me to so many people, and seeing it made me wonder about what happens to all those unsaid things. I think they add up to the moments and things you miss about a person. The reason you didn’t ask your million dollar question, was because you got caught up in them blowing smoke rings.  Or maybe because you knew that last car ride should be a happy one, and that for just one minute you really could be close while jamming out to Josie Cotton. Would those moments have happened had they not been a smoker? What if they had put on some lame-o music instead?

In Before Sunset, Celine talks about how “you can never replace anyone, because everyone is made of such beautiful specific details.” I wonder if my former friend would care about all the details I miss about her: like the time we stole cake from the neighbor boys, or the nights I’d paint violet and silver eyeshadow on her eyes. There’s one moment, and maybe it shouldn’t matter much, but I had been crying to another friend when she walked in the room. I hate crying in front of people so I tried to compose myself; she sat down in front of me and said “I know.” That was it, we didn’t need to talk about what was bothering me. It was something so simple that still means so much to me.

There are tiny elements that represent every person I’ve ever felt connected to. Some are a collection of things that I could spend hours trying to capture on paper. Others, maybe one specific item or moment that defines who they are, what we are…or were. Like Celine, I am obsessed with details, but I’m also curious about whether or not people care about what they are. Sometimes I just want to say, “wouldn’t you like to know the details I miss about you?”


“Just as long as we’re together…”

Yesterday Jezebel.com featured an article about childhood friendships; it was originally published in the Daily Mail. The piece is mainly about how friendships from childhood are the ones that tend to last forever. Because we are forced to spend all day with our friends during our formative years we supposedly create these intense bonds that last well into adulthood.  Now I don’t completely disagree with that sentiment, I’m still friends with a few people from high school and middle school. We’ll always share certain memories and experiences from those times in our lives that the friends we make later on won’t understand/care about because they weren’t there.  However, that doesn’t mean that the friends I’ve made over the last few years won’t be life long nor does it mean that they are any less valuable than those I’ve had for a longer period of time.  Two of the people I’m closest with are people I’ve met within the last 5 years, one of the two I met last year.

The comments on the post are mixed: some are still friends with their preschool buddies, others are really only close to the people they met later on in life, a lot have a mix. Some commenters point out that childhood friendships (turned into adult ones) can be simply friendships of convenience, or have pathological/co-dependent elements to them. I have seen that side. I’ve also seen how exclusive those friendships can be, to the point where it means ignoring friends who aren’t in that group because they aren’t as “important” as those friends are.

I once had a friend/ex-roommate, *Ellen, who conducted our friendship like the ones she had with her “friends from home.” What this meant was, I basically had to initiate contact between us, because God forbid she ever IM or email me first. I had to tolerate her flakiness and not get wished “Happy Birthday” because she didn’t see at as important. I think the cake topper was when we had a falling out she chose to side with the friend she knew longer–even though they were being false. I suppose what frustrated me was as roommates I really saw the potential for us to have a great friendship–to the point where I would’ve considered her one of my closest friends. But, when I was constantly being compared to that group of friends and their standards there was no way we would’ve been able to maintain any sort of friendship, especially when she wasn’t willing to meet me half way.

In the end I do disagree with the article’s author, Lucy Cavendish’s statements. I don’t think it’s fair to limit ourselves to the friends we made when we were kids. We never know who really will allow us to be who we truly are, who will help us grow into a better person. Saying that it will only be our tween/teen friends ends up limiting our possibilities. I want the option to have a great friendship with those I’ve met in the last few years and those I’ve known forever. I also want the chance to make even more amazing friendships.

You haven’t even begun…

“I don’t think people really change. I think they, we, can become better versions of what we are, more efficient, more impactful, hopefully less destructive. ” — William Bradley

I’ve been thinking about this quote ever since Bradley wrote up his review of the season finale of Mad Men.  I suppose I’ve always been infatuated with the idea reinvention, changing into something completely different…for the better, of course. In a way it’s a sort of Frankenstein idea of the emotional and mental self, keeping things you like, getting rid of those you don’t.

I like to think that for the most part we are constantly evolving, making subtle changes not only for ourselves but for those around us. Maybe it means keeping in touch with people who really do care about you, and letting go of the people you’ve out grown. Or maybe it’s even something superficial, like remembering to put the toilet-paper on the toilet-roll holder because you know the empty cardboard drives your partner crazy.

Lately I’ve been wondering if people really are capable of change. I had a argument discussion with a friend a few weeks ago, where she stated that she didn’t like certain aspects of her personality and was trying to change them. I kept telling her that it was a great thing and that I hoped she found what she was looking for. At the end of the day I’m not really sure what she wants to fix. I feel like maybe it was a nice thing to say at the time, but since then there hasn’t been any real effort on her part to sort of keep the ball rolling.  I’ll be honest, I feel duped and find the scenario to be along the lines of her “[announcing] abruptly that [she] has evolved — instead of actually evolving.”  I feel like when you’re trying to repair certain aspects of yourself or relationships that need to be mended and managed, well, you can’t really go on hiatus.

On the other hand I’m constantly confronted by the idea of people becoming to be some bizarre ideal that they hold near and dear to their hearts. In a previous entry I mentioned a roommate who used to give us hints of the beautiful person she could be, but then devolved into something selfish and superficial. Will she one day feel like she should do a 180, and find herself on the path to becoming a better person?

I’m always hopeful that people will change for the better. I hope they wake up and see the friends they have who truly care about them. It would be wonderful to have  self-awareness and see how we’ve slighted people or unintentionally hurt them, and change those behaviors. It would be great if we became more caring and generous.  But by fixing those elements are we actually changing?  Or is Bradley right, and we’re simply becoming better versions of ourselves?