Resist.

America was built on the backs of the disenfranchised, the downtrodden, those who were seen as lesser than human all because of their color, nationality, or religion. America was never great. There has been no point in American history where equal rights have been available to all.
Racism, sexism, discrimination, hate-based phobias dominated the platform of the man who took office yesterday. The man who lost the popular vote by a larger margin than any other president in modern history (Hayes in 1876 and Adams in 1824 lost by larger margins). The man who entered the Oval Office with a lower approval rating than any other president in modern history.
His history, his words, his lies normalized Neo-Nazis (1, 2), the KKK. He normalized assault, sexism, toxic masculinity, harassment, homophobia, transphobia, and brought back platforms and ideals that were once banners of war criminals. He promised to strip constitutional rights away from people who only wish for equal rights.
The mission & vision of the Women’s March says it all:

“The rhetoric of the past election cycle has insulted, demonized, and threatened many of us – immigrants of all statuses, Muslims and those of diverse religious faiths, people who identify as LGBTQIA, Native people, Black and Brown people, people with disabilities, survivors of sexual assault – and our communities are hurting and scared. We are confronted with the question of how to move forward in the face of national and international concern and fear.
In the spirit of democracy and honoring the champions of human rights, dignity, and justice who have come before us, we join in diversity to show our presence in numbers too great to ignore. The Women’s March on Washington will send a bold message to our new government on their first day in office, and to the world that women’s rights are human rights. We stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us.”

There are too many issues to be angry about, too many rights in danger of being erased. The march was filled with hundreds of thousands of people marching for different causes, but were unified under one thought: We will not go quietly. We will not lay down and “just accept it.”
We, as a unified front, marched – in spirit or in person – to show that we will fight and protect the rights of those who are less fortunate.
We fight so that future generations don’t have to, so they can experience and know true equality.
We fight and acknowledge that the color of our skin, our occupation, our gender, our sex, determines how we are treated, how we are seen. Immigrants, non-whites, sex workers, LGBTQIA+, those with disabilities, those who are not part of the 1%, almost everyone has something that will be put in jeopardy. And those who are the lucky ones who will not be effected by the policies and laws that will be attempted to get passed, it is our job to stand by those in danger. It is our job to join our voices with theirs, raising the volume and the heat, supporting their marches, their causes, not just when it’s convenient.
We fight because we know that love is stronger than hate.
We fight for our siblings, are parents, our children, our neighbors, the strangers we’ve never met.
We fight because we love our country and our world.
When the president blatantly is ignorant of the unalienable rights this country is founded upon, we will fight and stand tall, speak loud, and protect those that are in danger.
Theodore Roosevelt, in a 1918 wartime essay said:

“Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president or any other public official, save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country. It is patriotic to support him insofar as he efficiently serves the country. It is unpatriotic not to oppose him to the exact extent that by inefficiency or otherwise he fails in his duty to stand by the country. In either event, it is unpatriotic not to tell the truth, whether about the president or anyone else.”

New Year, New Chapter

2014 had more ups & downs than a soap opera, but then again, so does life. After all, what would we do if everything was just as predictable as an old rerun of Happy Days?
There was always a light at the end of the tunnel (thanks Third Day), even though I had no idea what was in store for me afterwards. December saw me finally complete the academic rat race that I’ve been running for the past six years, when I completed the final courses and graduate portfolio that fulfilled the requirements for my Masters of Library & Information Science from Pratt Institute. Soon after that, I flew home for an extended holiday as I recharged and threw myself into the job hunt full time.

During the holidays, I was able to pull myself away and focus on the uncertain path ahead. I’d never quite planned past getting my graduate degree, so for the first time in my life, I was directionless. The idea terrified me, and the feeling of being completely untethered to any sort of goal or endgame unnerved me to the Nth degree. However, God blessed my life with amazing, wise, & understanding parents, and a sweet sister who were willing to help me through the murky process of creating a solution, however temporary.

This brings me to the whole reason for this novelesque post: I’m moving away from New York City, and back to the Midwest for an unforseen amount of time. This decision was deliberated carefully, and honestly, debated hotly. However, over the past few weeks, thanks to the clear head of my parents, & a nice stock of whiskey,  I’ve come to terms with the fact that my time in New York is at an end.

My flight back to New York is January 24, and I’ll take a few days to pack & ship my clothes & books, and say my goodbyes. As LCD Soundsystem says, New York, I love you, but you’re bringing me down. I always knew that my endgame was never to live in New York, but over the past two years, the Big Apple has carved out a niche in my heart all its own.

To all of the amazing people I’ve had the blessing to meet, you guys have changed my life, and have become a permanent part of it.
I’ll always be DCH4Life & a Waterbaby, and dragonboat is forever in my blood (and on my arm). I won’t stop working in hopes I’ll find myself in a boat again (along with those really weird tan lines).
DCH 2014

To my wonderful roommates, MJ and Wendy, you guys have become like sisters to me more quickly than I thought possible. I can’t believe how lucky I was to find such amazing women quite literally overnight. We took an empty apartment & made it ours, and if there was any way feasible for me to still live with  you guys anywhere in the US, I would.
I can’t possibly name every amazing person that I have the privilege of having in my life because of New York, but the memories (hazy or no) will always be with me.
The happy hours, the road trips, the weeks with only $5 to last you til Friday, the late night tattoos on St. Marks, street meat at all hours of the day (or night), and somehow being able to navigate traffic with a full cup of coffee, bagel, phone, & laptop case in hand…with the occasional umbrella (I’m still not sure how I did that)- they’ll all be missed, and there is no way they can be replaced.
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sleep nyc tuesday

times square morning 10170819_10152316114676291_2041918772877260276_n

Who knows, perhaps I’ll end up back on the East Coast someday, but til then, keep it classy, New York. You’ll always have a portion of my heart.

I would say

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I would say
That I’m not surprised,
But I am.
I would say that I’ll swallow my pride,
But at this point in my life, I don’t have any.
I would say “next time”
But there’s never been a ‘next’
To look forward to.
I would say that I saw this coming,
But I didn’t.
I would say that I didn’t get my hopes up,
But I did.
I would say that I’ve learned my lesson,
But I’m afraid my heart hasn’t.
I would say that I’m fine,
But I’m not.

hand type by Raul Alejandro

Triumph

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It’s the little things in life we should be thankful for.
We might not like the color of our eyes
– how their brown color isn’t remarkable or memorable
– how they need the assistance of contacts or glasses to fully function
But they can see.
We might not like our laugh
– how you lose control and snort
– how it seems a bit too loud for everyone else
But you have reason to laugh in your life.
It’s the little things in life-
Those come-to-Jesus moments, where everything seems fresher and newer.
Those quiet evenings of just you and a book.
A rainy day alone.
New friends.
Old friends.
Realizing that your brown eyes might not be that bad.
Accepting your laugh for the weird noise that it is- unique to only you.
It’s the little things in life-
Driving with the sunroof open and radio up.
Getting lost while walking home and finding a new bar.
Befriending your downstairs neighbors.
Watching the subset alone, just because you can.
It’s the little things.

Grinding Gears

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Keys in the ignition.
Mirrors.
Clutch.
Brake.
Turn keys-engine.
E-brake.
Gas.
Inhale, exhale.
Nowhere to go but forward.
Look behind you, but don’t dwell on the past.
Focus forwards, where you want to be.
Clutch-shift.
Second gear.
Faster, gaining momentum.
Make your lists.
Plot your course.
Exhale.
It’s okay to be nervous.
Clutch-shift.
Third gear.
Don’t slow down.
Keep going.
Things are falling into place.
The gas tank is full.
Highway is approaching.
Steel yourself for the inevitable.
No distractions.
Clutch-shift.
Fourth gear.
Faster, faster.
Pass some.
Get passed by some.
Everyone’s pace is different.
Everyone has their own style.
Automatics tend to be impatient, less focused.
Sticks are patient, aware.
There are four different things running through your mind- running parallel.
Mirrors.
Speed.
Clutch.
Gas.
Fifth Gear- overdrive.
Full speed ahead.
Some cars seem like they’re standing still.
Others still pass.
Inhale, exhale.
Focus.
It’s your car. Your trip.
Mile markers increase in number.
Roll the window down.
Relax.
Exhale.
Roll your shoulders.
Turn the radio up.
You love this song.
Sing.
Laugh.
Smile.
It’s just you & the highway.
Lose yourself in the zone.
The wind whistles past the window.
The engine purrs like a content housecat.
You’re driving.
You’re in control.
Mirrors- just for good measure.
Gas-check.
*DESTINATION AHEAD*
Clutch-brake-shift.
Back to fourth.
Clutch-brake-shift.
Third.
Clutch-brake-shift.
Second.
Clutch-brake.
Stop.
E-brake.
Keys.
Exhale, inhale, exhale.
It’s okay to be nervous.
You traveled a while to get here.
You & the road.
You were certain back at mile marker 247.
You’re certain now.
Just one foot in front of the other.
Step-step-step-step.
No turning back.
You can only go forward.
Inhale, exhale.
You’ve come this far.

Cracking

I found a journal entry from three years ago. 

I felt the carefully sealed cracks in my heart begin to reopen, shivering from the sudden wave of cold air that rushed through the fissures. 

I read that, at 21:

I had been to more funerals than weddings. 
I attended my first when I was 4. 

I had held more hands in comfort than I had new borns. 
A friend lost his dad when we could barely spell the word “toothbrush”.

The number of people I knew behind bars was higher than the fingers on my right hand. 

I wrote that I remember learning what the word ‘suicide’ meant when I was three.

I was asked at 20 why I was so happy all the time, and if I ever got tired of it, and I answered that, yes. I do, but when you’ve seen the dice land on snake eyes as much as I have, you learn to use ones that are loaded, so you can only focus on the winnings. 
—-
Now, three years later:

I’ve been to more weddings. 
I’ve held more bundles of life. 
I’ve watched friends and family begin new chapters and write stories of their own. 
I’ve had dreams shatter and be rebuilt. 
I’ve laughed and cried and lost.
I’ve found new dreams, and found myself in the process.
I’ve gained new family and lost others, the circle expanding and contracting like my diaphragm. 

But the rest of my chapters are still waiting to be written

Paint Chips

Painting your room is a more difficult decision than it’s typically portrayed.
In real life, you don’t have that one blue vase of your grandmother’s that is the perfect combination of robin’s egg blue and teal.
What you have is a 10-by-12 square with a black bookshelf from Target and a plain bed frame with brown sheets, with the occasional wine bottle set on the windowsill amongst the tangled nest of Christmas lights you found on a Home Depot clearance rack. So, unless you want to match your paint to “Lost Angel Wine Bottle” Green, or “Arrogant Bastard Ale” Brown…You have to make the decision yourself.
You have one shot- a single, one-gallon can of Behr Indoor/Outdoor paint, to change the entire feel of your bedroom (hopefully) permanently. Let’s be honest. If painting were easy, then it’d be more like the Valspar chameleon commercials, but it’s not.
One color. One can. One shot.
Basically, it’s you versus your future comfort and happiness in the Hunger Games arena that is disguised as your tiny bedroom. This is how you find yourself with a pile of paint chips, matching them to the closest pure white thing you can find: hotel bed sheets, notebook paper, that one dress in your closet that is miraculously sans-coffee stains- anything but the heinous “Oh God, is this actually what you think WHITE looks like?!” shade of your current bedroom walls.
However, you conquer that gauntlet. You find the perfect, warm shade of gold that just sends warm, fuzzy feelings through your body- your room gets painted in an evening with the help of “Chicago,” a rotating fan, and a beautifully freeing lack of clothing (hey, if you can’t afford Throw Away Clothes…).
One issue: The name. Something as simple as the name given to a color can invoke unsightly tears and an inner emotional breakdown.
What is it about names? The simple, multi-syllobic strings of consonants and vowels that are assigned a 3×3 inch of paper, a town name, an address. But something hits the sweet spot about those ridiculous names assigned to paint chips.
“princess Ivory” “Rare Earth” “Bittersweet Chocolate.”

I’ve resolved to never be a paint chip.
Why would I want to be a scrap, an example of the full experience?
A paint chip isn’t the real thing, it’s a sampling of the actual product, the full experience of the color. Why would I want to be an example of life? A “Coming Soon to a Life Experience Near You!”
Why?
Why should we look at our life day by day, minute by minute, instead of looking at everything, all at once?
LIVE moment by moment, but plan for the future as well. Figure out your game plan for the next month, 6 months, 2 years, who-gives-a-fuck-5-year-plan?
That trip to Australia? Plan it, but don’t you dare miss going out with your friends on a Friday night in the name of “saving money.” Money will be made and spent. That’s why it’s there. If you don’t spend the money on that drink, you’ll probably end up eating it away in the form of a Burger King hamburger, and let’s be honest, that drink would be much more satisfying that that damn burger.
Start thinking about where you want to move after school, grad school, or even 2 years from now, just for the hell of it.
The world is huge, unexplored for many, and it’s just waiting for your two puny, human sized eyeballs to tear it wide open, to experience it for the first time.
See it. Live it. Experience it. Throw your fears out the window and just GO.
Don’t be like paint chips.
When compared to the stark white of the hotel bed sheets, of course, they look colorful and interesting. Bleach will make any world look colorful. That’s the terror and beauty of technology. You can be tricked into thinking you’re actually living, when you’re not.
A dear friend slapped me in the face (lovingly) with this truth a few weeks ago, and I cannot be more grateful.
What’s the use in exploring the world, if you never leave the start line in the first place?
Go out on a limb.
Race head first around the bend.
Forget your knee pads when you go rollerblading.
Drink just ONE drink too much.
Enjoy living.
Enjoy the scars, memories, headaches, and callouses you get from experiences that can never be forgotten.
Live life to the fullest. Experience the full spectrum of color.
Don’t be a paint chip.
Don’t be a sampling of what life has to offer.
Don’t be content with a smaller version.
Don’t be a paint chip.