Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Lessons From One Tree Hill (Part 4)

This one isn't so much a lesson, but a really beautiful way to think about those who have died.

Quentin Fields was a basketball player, he was also a son, a brother, somebody's teammate, somebody's friend. I didn't know Quentin Fields. I guess now I never will.
Did you ever wonder what it would be like if you weren't you anymore? If you were suddenly gone, how would your world react? Whatever you imagined is wrong. There is nothing romantic about death. Grief is like the ocean. It's deep and dark and bigger than all of us. And pain is like a thief in the night.
Quentin Fields was a basketball player, he was also a son, a brother and somebody's friend. I never knew Quentin Fields and I guess now I never will. 

Grief is like the ocean its deep and dark and bigger than all of us. And pain is like a thief in the night. Quite, persistent, unfair. Diminished by time and fate and love. I didn't know Quentin Fields but I'm jealous of him because I see how his absence has affected the people who did know him. So I know he mattered to them. And I know he was loved. 

People say Quentin Fields was a great basketball player--graceful, fluent, inspiring... They say on a good night it almost seemed as if he could fly. And now he can.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Trayvon Martin

This week I have spent more pissed off than usual.

Trayvon Martin is my brother. My son. My cousin. My friend. My grandson. My nephew. My boyfriend. My classmate. My godson. My neighbor. My student.

You wouldn't know it by looking at me. I'm white. I will never have the experience that people of color have being immediately perceived as threatening by the color of their skin. I would never presume to say that I understand how that feels. It's not possible. I was born white, by no special talent of my own. I didn't choose my privilege, but I have it just the same.

But I will never stop working for justice. Trayvon Martin is still my family, is a part of all of our families. Every day that Trayvon's killer is not brought to justice, a little bit of all of our souls dies. I implore you to not just let this news make you sad for a moment then you move on to your regularly scheduled life. We cannot sit idly by.

Trayvon was killed because he was black. That was the most threatening thing he had going on. For everyone who thinks we live in a post-racial society, I say, really?! I urge everyone to take a good hard look at themselves--because this didn't just happen in Florida, it could've happened anywhere.

Tomorrow I will be joining a march and rally in Los Angeles, in support for Trayvon Martin and his family. It has been one month since he was murdered, for walking while black. It's not okay. What kind of message are we sending--that someone can be killed for the color of their skin, and there will be no punishment? We cannot let that be true.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Being Ms. B

For the last eight months, I've had an alter ego: "Ms. B." My roommate Jackie has told me that she even prays for "Ms. B" as a different part of me.

This is what I hear a lot of every day:

"Ms. B! Ms. B! Ms. B! I need help! Can I go to the bathroom? Can I play with this? Ms. B! She said a bad word! He hit me! Ms. B! Ms. B! Ms. B!"

Every afternoon, I transform into Ms. B. We have fun, but there are rules. We get to play outside, do fun arts and crafts, have snack... but mostly we have to do homework. And it's not negotiable, not matter how much my 5 & 6 year olds cry about how they don't want to do it. I have to be tough on them, but it would be a disservice to them not to be. At the same time, I make sure each and every one of the children in Urban Compass knows that I love them, that I care about their success and happiness, that I am rooting for them.

We have many volunteers that come once a week; the kids are always sooooo excited to see them. They run and hug them, insist that the volunteers sit with them, play with them, tutor them. I used to feel a little ignored in these cases until I started reminding myself that I have a different role in this. They expect to see me every day. It's a given that I'll be there. I help provide a consistency that they don't have in many areas of their lives, and that is even more valuable. They're not as excited to see me, because they trust that I will always be there, and is humbling knowing I can be there for these kids this way.

Every single day I am amazed by these children. They are so strong, smart, funny, beautiful and incredibly resilient. These kids keep me going in the times of darkness.

I cannot hope to completely change their lives. I am such a small piece of the puzzle, I can only hope to be a positive influence on them. I can do small things, like show them they are loved, they are valued, help them with their homework, provide them a safe place to go after school, encourage them that the sky is the limit. I can only hope that maybe some of those small things might make a bigger difference somewhere along the line; that I can be part of some small change in the direction their lives go.

I am so blessed to have the opportunity to work with these amazing children. They have taught me so much, and I am so proud of the progress they have all made. I love being Ms. B. These kids have so much love to give, and I am honored that some of it comes to me.

What I've Been Reading

I'm one of those people that gets so much joy out of starting a new book, that I read a bunch at once. I think I started 5 in the last month... I'm trying to finish at least one of them this weekend. (If you're curious what books I'm reading: The Autobiography of Malcolm X, Wicked, The Magic of Blood, Latina, The Warmth of Other Suns)

And in the news:

A woman's heartbreaking experience with the sonogram law in Texas. (I marched against this last year)

We Are Not Invisible: 5 African Women Respond to Kony 2012

Ohio State Senator Nina Turner introduces a Viagra bill

The story of Trayvon Martin and the call to have his killer brought to justice

Friday, March 16, 2012

Spirituality Night: Closing Prayer

God, Our heavenly mother,

We come to You as humbly as we know how. We thank You for the beauty You have given us on this planet--the sky, the earth, the trees, the people, the love, the art, the generosity, the perseverance. We thank You also for the beauty of pain, of suffering, of fear, of exhaustion, of vulnerability.

We ask that You help us to always remember that we can still find You through the entire span of human experience, through the struggle. Be with us as we seek You out in our daily lives.

Be with us as we live in community. Be with us in our work. Be with us in our relationships with others. Be with us during the "life is good" moments, and in the moments we want to give up.

Thank You for showing us that we are all connected. Help us to always remember that we can always find common ground.

Guide us to the places we will find You, and guide us to find You in places we never imagined.

Bless our community and our work. Bless our families and friends that have paved the way for us. Bless the world and use us to heal the pain. Help us learn from everyone--for everyone can teach us something.

We must remember that You aren't through with us yet.

In Jesus' name,


Monday, March 12, 2012

Lessons From One Tree Hill (Part 3)

This is a series on the lessons that have come from the show One Tree Hill, one of my favorite shows. See Part 1 and Part 2.

Sometimes the beauty is in the attempt.

Lucas and Julian are sitting in the park despairing over the fact that the movie they were working on got shut down. Dixon, the crazy director, comes along and shares some words of wisdom:

"Here's the piece of the puzzle you boys are missing. Sometimes the beauty is in the attempt. We took a shot. We gave it everything we could, and we did it well. It just didn't work out. Now when that happens, you got two options. You can sit in a public park pouting and drinking cheap beer, or... you can celebrate the attempt! For the friendships you've made along the way."

I struggle with the fear of failure, of rejection, of being wrong. A lot of people do. I think that is why this moment in the show One Tree Hill was so powerful to me--to remind myself that life is all about taking chances. Sometimes things don't work out, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't have taken the chance. Failure is part of the journey of life, and to live a full one, we will fail sometimes. And sometimes the beauty is that we made the attempt in the first place, and that's all we can really ask for.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Marching in like a Lion

I feel like I say this every month, but I can't believe it's March! I'm more than halfway through my JVC year, and it's gotten to the point where I have to start thinking about what comes up August 4th, but I don't want to think about this experience ending...

So in other news, February is usually my least favorite month but 2012 brought a different perspective. January was a very rough month for me and working through a lot of that gave me a newfound courage and passion to change things in my life. A big thing is that I put myself out there and took a chance, and am currently dating a pretty awesome guy.

Other things that happened in February: I attended a film festival at USC titled "Surviving the Intersections: Gender, Race & Sexuality", went to the Vagina Monologues, Urban Compass had a community event at the Farmer's Market, we had a bonfire at the beach, I got my fourth learner's permit, had a few parties with the other JV's... Went to a few museums, explored LA a bit, you know, the usual. We had a lot of parents visit this month--Erica's mom came one weekend, Putnam's parents came another weekend, and Kevin's parents visited this past weekend (technically March...).

A few photos:
Fair trade roses from El Salvador, from my dad for Valentine's Day

Two of my kindergartners, Cristopher & Desire

My Jennifer. This girl is attached to my hip.

Dockweiler Beach for the bonfire

Casa DK ladies getting their Mardi Gras on

International Women's Day!

Happy International Women's Day! In honor of this day, I am posting some notable quotes about/by women.

"Any woman who chooses to behave like a full human being should be warned that the armies of the status quo will treat her as something of a dirty joke... She will need her sisterhood." -Gloria Steinem

"Woman's degradation is in man's idea of his sexual rights. Our religion, laws, customs, are all founded on the belief that woman was made for man." -Elizabeth Cady Stanton

"A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle." -Irina Dunn

"We still think of a powerful man as a born leader and a powerful woman as an anomaly." -Margaret Atwood

"There are women who make things better... simply by showing up. There are women who make things happen. There are women who make their way. There are are women who make a difference. And women who make us smile. There are women of wit and wisdom who, through strength and courage, make it through. There are women who change the world every day... Women like you." -Ashley Rice

"Every man I meet wants to protect me. I can't figure out what from." -Mae West

"A feminist is anyone who recognizes the equality and full humanity of women and men." -Gloria Steinem

"A woman is like a tea bag; you never know how strong it is until it's in hot water." -Eleanor Roosevelt

"Feminism is the radical notion that women are human beings." -Cheris Kramarae

"As a woman I have no country. As a woman I want no country. As a woman, my country is the whole world." -Virginia Woolf

"After all, Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did. She just did it backwards and in high heels." -Ann Richards

"Well behaved women seldom make history." -Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

"No woman can call herself free who does not control her own body." -Margaret Sanger

"I won't be protected. I will choose for myself what is ladylike and right. To shield me is an insult." -E.M. Forster

"The sadness of the women's movement is that they don't allow the necessity of love. See, I don't personally trust any revolution where love is not allowed." -Maya Angelou

"The best judge of whether or not a country is going to develop is how it treats its women. If it's educating its girls, if women have equal rights, that country is going to move forward. But if women are oppressed and abused and illiterate, then they're going to fall behind." -Barack Obama

Sure God created man before woman.  But then you always make a rough draft before the final masterpiece.  ~Author Unknown

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

"My Rapist Doesn't Know He's a Rapist": A Photo

Why I Use Birth Control

It's about to get a little real here. I pride myself on being extremely honest and open, and I'm not going to gloss over the fact that I have PMDD, and that's why I take birth control.

Anger is like taking poison and hoping the other person will die.

A professor I had freshman year told us that in class one day. It was the semester I was diagnosed with PMDD.

It was hard to come to terms with the diagnosis, but at the same time, I was so glad to have an explanation. I've always described PMDD as feeling like a werewolf. Because it seriously feels like I go temporarily crazy once a month. And even when I see it coming, even when I've been taking my medication, even when things are going pretty well--sometimes the smallest triggers are my full moon. The smallest things set me off into the werewolf.

Sometimes I can tell it's happening, and I can try to calm myself down. Sometimes I'm so blinded by anger or depression, and that's when I cause the most damage.

Maybe not to the actual people, but to the relationships.

I am not defined by my mental illness, and I do not like feeling like it is in control. I don't like thinking that there are people who will think that I really act like that--that I really am a complete bitch.

I want to be the best version of myself.

I don't want people to think the PMDD version of me is who I am. I'm so much more than that. But at the same time, it is sometimes a very real struggle for me to show the world that I am.

One time I was complaining to my brother about people thinking I was the PMDD person, the "werewolf", let's say. I said I didn't want people to think that was really me.

He said, at any time, you are being you.

I don't think I even responded because that was so painful.

I wanted to ignore my PMDD, just take the medication and it would go away. Unfortunately, it does not work like that. It gets better, for sure, and imagining what my life could be like/used to be makes me want to scream.

At age 18, I was put on birth control pills to treat my PMDD. At age 19, I was also put on antidepressants. At age 21, my antidepressants were increased. That was about a year ago.

My life has completely changed. I still have a lot of struggles with anger and depression, but the magnitude is so much different. Thanks to antidepressants and birth control, I have the chance of having a normal life, and instead of feeling like a werewolf once a month, just feeling a little off.

I have PMDD. It's a part of who I am. It's not all I am. Because I am on birth control, I can be more than my mental illness.

Don't take away my birth control, I promise if you talked to me without it, you will be sorry.

Lessons From One Tree Hill (Part 2)

This is a series on the lessons that have come from the show One Tree Hill, one of my favorite shows. See Part 1 here.

Another moment I found especially powerful was in season 4. The characters do a project where they learn from their classmates, and then take a picture reflecting the goals, dreams, fears of the other person. Brooke, like many teenage girls, feels that she is not enough. Not pretty enough, not talented enough, not smart enough, not good enough... It is something that even she, the most popular girl in school, deals with. It makes me think of what a world could be like if we didn't have these expectations of perfection coming at us from all different angles.