Posts filed under the in-between

when writing is not glamorous.

Yesterday, I published a book. 

I woke up like I do every morning, my dog whining and looking at me with her eyes reserved for pleading that she needed to go outside. 

When I came back inside, I worked a little in making sure links were where they needed to be and thanked a few people for sharing the Amazon page and then realized: it's been an hour. I haven't eaten. I should probably do that.

Here's where I tell you it's been a pretty rough week. This summer has kicked my husband and I around a few times, and September has been no exception. However, when I started making macaroni and cheese and realized we didn't have any milk only after boiling the noodles, I may have lost it a little bit. 

Like, screamed the f-word a few times and threw the noodles down the disposal and then made myself some nachos out of generic cheese and stale tortilla chips.

Last night, my husband and I ate leftovers and watched Criminal Minds and I tried to keep from refreshing the Amazon page to watch my ranking. (This is a horrible idea, by the way. Stay far away from the refresh button on your release day. Stay far away from the internet, really).

This is not how I imagined release days when I started thinking hey, I may want to write a book or two.

To me, release days looked like popped champagne and copious amounts of celebration. It looked like a table full of your book(s) and friends and family and those who read your writing gathered around, cheering you on as you sign copies. 

It did not look like a mix of ugly crying (because vulnerability) and desperation (because where are the reviews? will anyone leave a review? what about the reviews?) and joy (ohmigosh I did it. I published another book. THOSE ARE MY WORDS AND PEOPLE ARE READING THEM AND I PUBLISHED ANOTHER BOOK).

This post is a dose of reality. 

Pursuing your dream, in whatever form, is hard. Some days, it kind of sucks. Like, there-are-no-more-groceries-and-pay-day-is-tomorrow-and-our-car-needs-repaired-and-how-will-we-make-rent sucks. 

But here's the secret, and I need you to pay attention: life doesn't have to be glamorous in order to be beautiful. 

Living the life that aligns with your purpose isn't always easy. Most times it kind of makes you want to quit. But the brilliancy of pushing through and doing it anyways because you love it is what makes everything worth it in the end. 

Before I went to bed last night, I received a message from a friend who finished reading Somewhere Between Water & Sky — thank you for writing hope, she said. 

I smiled. 

Mission: complete.

Posted on September 19, 2014 and filed under writing, soft, the in-between, fiction.

you matter.

a human being is nothing but a story with skin around it - fred allen

do you ever have those days where writing comes at you like one of those continuous drips from a fountain - steady, consistent, almost annoying with its persistence in being heard? yeah. this past week has been the complete opposite. there have been moments, like the other night when friends stayed until 5 in the morning talking about doubt & fear & hope, where my intrinsic writer has been like, "write this down! remember it! take this moment & lock it deep inside where you won't ever forget." but then life gets in the way & so you think you can dance beckons me from the tv...oh wait. perhaps i shouldn't have admitted that. oh well. there it is. we all have our faults, & spending time watching people lose themselves in dancing is one of mine. because i understand. i know what it's like to lose yourself in your thoughts with music blaring. plus i love to dance & secretly imagine myself as part of Adam Chu's dance crew & the league of extraordinary dancers (LXD for those who know...)

well. quite the...bunny trail there. moving on. basically, what i am trying to say is, forgive me if this post is a bit erratic. too many thoughts in a writer's brain equates to moments of sputtering attempts at blending words into a meaningful post.

so what has stopped me from writing? well. i've been reading. i've read almost five books since summer started, and the inspiration to write teeters every now & then, ranging from screaming hot fire inside me to just a slight ember waiting to be lit. so, it's not like i haven't been...productive...i guess you'd say. more like distracted.

i've been distracted with work. i'd be lying if i said i was remotely excited about returning to where i have been teaching. i love the people there - i do. but i feel as though i can't truly MOVE forward unless i sever all ties. truly let go. you know, not drive 45 minutes every day to walk on egg shells around your boss & wait for the next story of the next person who has been fried under her scrutiny.

i've been distracted by ideas. someone needs to start developing some type of sticky note system for brain waves. i have so many ideas stretching to their limits bouncing inside my noisy head it's hard to focus at times.

i have so much more inside of me. so many ideas & hopes & dreams...so many questions & concerns. the fact i haven't been able to land a job here almost legitimizes some of those doubts i hear creeping in the corner - you aren't worth it, they say. and i so know this is false, & i know there's a job out there, regardless of whether it's new or i find myself making the daily trek to where i've been for the past four years. it's just a daily battle, you know? and to make matters more complicated, the woman who has mentored me the most these past couple of years - the one who has been like my mother in terms of teaching & battling parents & coming into my own - calls while i write this post. she is what makes the possibility of leaving the hardest. her belief in me pushes me to become something better. and i know, as i sit here talking to her, despite my desire to move on & pursue these dreams, leaving her leadership will be one of the hardest things i will ever do.

so here i am, in the middle of a coffee shop, hoping. waiting. watching. wondering where i will find myself tomorrow & the next day & the next...closing my eyes & breathing deep.

because it's the only thing i know how to do.

there are these things...these dreams...beckoning me. i long for others to realize their story means something. i long for others to hear the call for adventure inside of them & run towards it. so much for life filled with mediocrity - screw that. it's not how we are meant to live our lives. the quote at the beginning of this post? the one about humans being stories with skin on? it calls to the writer inside. look at those around you! it screams out at me. pay attention. listen to their story. it means something. they mean something.

this past year, i had my students write one of many self-narratives. you know the type - these are the essays students usually write the typical "i was at a party & made a bad choice & promised to never do it again because, gosh. that was so stupid!" and you know as you are reading the essay it's absolute poppycock because you just heard them talking about the party going down this weekend...& you wish for just a second that these kids would suck it up & be honest about themselves.

one girl was. in fact, she couldn't ever finish her essays in class because her writing was so heartwrenching & honest she had to take it home & reflect on it a bit. one day, her writing spoke of hope, or the lack thereof, & the fact that she didn't believe in herself. i pulled her aside & handed her a note that said no matter what she thought of herself or what others had said or would say, i believed in her. she came to class the next day & told me i was the first person who had ever told her that. she's 16! 16. this is why i do what i do. i have no other choice.

people need to know. you need to know.

your story matters.

...gosh. didn't mean for this post to be so introspective. but i guess i can't help it. i've been brooding for awhile, & if my old professor has any wisdom in writing, it's when we get most depressed that our writing becomes to most authentic...or something.

so.

the coffee shop closes in five minutes & i still feel words pulsating their way through the crevices of my dusty brain. SARK's book, juicy pens thirsty paper, sits quietly waiting next to me.

perhaps i will let go of my thoughts for a little while & gain some inspiration.

Posted on June 18, 2009 and filed under story, the in-between.

we are giants.

In those days, we finally chose to walk like giants & hold the world in arms grown strong with love & there may be many things we forget in the days to come, but this will not be one of them

- Brian Andreas

I came across this from a good friend of mine. The moment I read it something happened inside my heart. Something concrete & hopeful & dangerous. From that second - I promised myself whatever I did, I would do it remembering this story & those I have met along the way who hold the world in their arms of love. And I have forgotten a lot. I have failed to write my heart & my dreams down. Words & thoughts & hopes have gone with the wind, and I can only hope that unlike Hughes' dream deferred, mine will return & not rot like a raisin in the sun.

However, there are moments where my dreams seem vibrant with color & so tactile I feel as though I can reach out & grab them. A couple weeks ago was one of those times.

I wish I could capture every magical moment of the rescue. I wish I could capture the beauty of pick up duck-duck goose games or midnight freeze tag or last minute taxi rides in the wee hours of the morning while walking the streets of Austin in search for George Lopez. I can only try & grasp with my weak vocabulary the severity of what joining together with thousands across the world did to my heart.

But I will try. Because I have to. Because I refuse to forget this moment.

I drove down to Austin on the 25th of April. I remember the weather. Sunny, almost brimming with anticipation -- as if even the weather knew what was broiling in the minds of thousands of young people. We were many, but we had one hope. One goal. Abducting ourselves in solidarity with the child soldiers of n. Uganda & awaiting rescue from a mogul -- be it politician or celebrity. We just needed a statement. Them standing in solidarity with us, who were standing in solidarity with the children. Because our rescue ultimately meant their eventual escape from a horrific life of terror. When I got to the Capitol, there were about twenty volunteers there, waiting & laughing & planning for the hundreds who would show. The abductees started the trek at 3 that afternoon in the blazing sun & showed up at the site after their mile and a half walk with flushed cheeks & wind whipped hair.

And they were smiling. All of them. A smile of hope.

Before long, the Capitol lawn was littered with sleeping bags, ice chests, guitars, footballs, pillows, scrap paper & new best friends. Within hours, boxes designated for letters to Senators were overflowing, proving wrong society's perception of our "apathetic" generation. Apathetic we are not. Even in the face of rain and bitter disappointment

It started raining some time in the early morning hours. Walking from group to group, our voices growing hoarse and our hair growing damp, we shared inspirational stories to keep the momentum going for our impending rescue. We had a mogul. She had agreed to an offsite interview & we were going to see her making a statement for our movement at noon on Sunday. Excitement was building, people anxious for a shower & sleep worked out their jitters with dodgeball & red rover. Didn't know the person next to you? No matter. They were your family simply because of the common bond. Instant friendship. Instant trust.

We got word around 11:45. Volunteers were called to a meeting at the VIP tent & walking towards the group I knew something was wrong. Long faces may not seem out of place after a night of no sleep - but this is a different crowd. No sleep? No problem. Double shot of espresso, good friends, good music, good laughs & good conversations pass the time & make you forget of exhaustion. Long faces don't accompany the faces of my IC family very often. I walked up to the group timidly & began hearing bits of the conversation. It didn't take me long to get the idea.

Our mogul wasn't coming.

We weren't rescued.

The promises we had given the camp the night before? The pleas to stay because it was gonna be worth it?

Meaningless.

But wait.

We looked at each other. Suddenly, the realization sank deep in our bones & we let it simmer in our souls for awhile.

This is why we were here.

The games were fun. The instant friendships were meaningful & would be a catalyst for life-long relationships & a taste for true community.

But we were not there for us. We were not there to play dodgeball or red rover or sing songs late at night by the light of a flashlight and the tune of the guitar.

We were there to stand in solidarity with the children who had hoped & hoped & hoped for rescue for over 23 years. We were there to understand what it was like to be promised something (like rescue) and be disappointed in the backfiring of the best laid plans. Because these kids? They've been promised peace five times. It's no exaggeration when I say a whole generation has never known peace. I will say this again. In n. Uganda, a whole generation has never known peace. And we were losing heart with our mogul falling through? In Austin? No. We would not lose heart. We would stay. We would press on & keep the faith & not leave until we got someone.

It took another 24 hours.

On Monday, August 27, 2009, 48 hours after many had first stepped on the Capital lawn, we were rescued. Many were soaked - it had been raining off & on all evening & between dodging sprinklers, fighting sleep & staying strong, many were refusing to let up. A fire had been lit. And just like with any fire, it had onlookers. I don't think I will ever forget the black suits watching us from inside the cushy offices - warm & dry - while we stood ground outside the Capitol steps dripping wet & taking turns in the dry air of Subway, Starbucks, or walking barefoot in the Capitol building for a moment's reprieve from the rain. We truly were a force to be reckoned with, and they knew. We had been heard; we had been seen; and in the process, these children were not invisible anymore to those in Austin who could make a tangible plea in Congress on our behalf.

We were rescued on Monday, but other cities weren't so lucky. I went home Monday night to my bed, others were still battling freezing rain & blistering sun & bitter disappointment. Russ didn't come home for another four days.

And while those four days held about three other blog posts, know this: I learned something about my generation that week. My generation? We are a persistent bunch. We will not give up. We will not give in. And whether it be forcing trends on twitter to listen to us or demanding mogulus watchers to pay attention to this channel called invisible children or connecting people cross country to others whose hearts beat in the same way or sticking it out old school for the big O' to come to the rescue, we will wait. Because there's something else I noticed about our generation.

We believe in the absolute truth of hope. And in this hope lies the truth that impossibility doesn't exist in our vocabulary. Our arms have been built with the persistence of love, and we will hold those hurting until others join the fight. We will walk together, knowing community exists when dreams are fostered, and to those around us we will seem as giants. And looking around, we will know this is true.

Posted on May 13, 2009 and filed under the in-between.