Hello, Winter. And hello to you too…

I haven’t visited this place in awhile. When people don’t post/share as often as they usually have it is assumed that somehow the person is too busy and that too in some negative way that resembles intense overwhelm and chaos which in many ways is preventing the individual from posting on a blog etc.

This has not been the case for me at all.

I now actually have work that allows me plenty of breathing room. So, that’s what I have been doing: breathing. Beyond catching my breath, now I am getting used to what regular breathing is supposed to feel like.

I finished reading Charles Baxter’s latest short stories. I enjoyed them more than I thought I would. That being said, I am in awe of the stories I have read in the Bristol Short Story Prize Anthology. They are absolutely original and do not follow a formula as can be expected in the contemporary American short stories.

The Thinking Tree website  is ready. I haven’t posted any of the strategies for educators yet (primarily focusing on how I can get even the most reluctant young learners to write so much and with their authentic voice). I just wanted the forum available already to my former students whom I miss dearly. Here is an essay by one of my even more former students who is a young woman now!

One of Jamie’s latest work happened to be  ready upon serendipitous timing and was included in a show here in Albuquerque in October. That was a lot of fun and it was a sight to observe others as mesmerized by it as I remain.

Yesterday I spent most of the day thinking about current events (Missouri to Japan to Beiruit to Paris)  and began working on an essay about the so called “Moderate Muslims”.  Although they disapprove of fundamentalist practices in the name of their religion, they too must answer for their hypocrisy when they continue to live in Western countries yet refuse to consider these countries home. But then I stopped writing. I recalled reading this article, “Removing Hijab, Finding Myself“, not too long ago. I applaud this woman for stepping out of her comfort zone and exploring what is the real reason she once wore the hijab and the privilege of being in a country that allows her to dress however she wants where as in many Muslim countries this practice is imposed on women. I thought about this article and thought about what I was writing and all I could think was: if this is what “moderate” Muslims are battling—should I cover my head or not?—I can’t even imagine how lost the others feel and reserved my judgmental tone in that essay I had begun and never finished it.

What a mess! All of it. Not to mention the hypocrisy of Saudi Arabia, the breeding grounds for fundamentalism, and that country’s relationship with the United States. Here is a recent prime example of this: Saudi Arabia Sentences Poet to Death.

Often I feel like I am in some suspended state on a merry-go-round where my brain can’t keep up with the misinformation being circulated on the Internet and the idiocracy no one will question. Surely, this is some experiment or joke by the Universe. Humanity can’t be devolving this rapidly, or can it? Or is it all just part of the evolution? Part of some Grand U-Turn?

There is so much to say about so much that it all sounds the same as what’s already out there, even if the alternative voices don’t get the deserving loud speakers. So, I am listening, quietly and patiently, until I have something different to say here. Until then, I am writing on my own.

Anyway, it is winter and it is beautiful. I had missed the intensity of seasons during our time in California.

I love Albuquerque and continue to guard why (and hence my silence about it which can’t stay contained) so as to somehow protect it from becoming the next “it” city.

I am writing again (nonfiction), although not sharing here as regularly. I am excited about this book.

When I am not writing, I am observing, reading, thinking, literally slow-dancing with life and being grateful for our families and so much love and being able to live madly in love.

 

I wish you all a wonderful and safe season of gratitude. Thank you for still hanging around despite my lack of regular posting.

 

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Create or Else: Jack Rabid

March 17, 2013.

No writing today because it was the most perfect still sunday! It was filled with California sunshine, love, and family time.

Sometimes words really aren’t necessary, says the girl who eats words for breakfast and rearranges their meanings in her sleep.

I did get to some writing but it was for the “Note to the Reader” section for my collection of stories. The “Acknowledgments” section remains blank. Knowing me, it will be quite short. Anyway. In that process, I went down the rabbit hole of some of my writings that I have shared here.

Then I listened (again) to Jack Rabid’s words tonight.  He is the creator of The Big Takeover magazine. His words in this video made me realize that sometimes as important as the one creating the experience (for example, a musician), if not more so, is the one experiencing that which has been created, the one also known as the real fan. The term fan might as well be obsolete now because we think “followers” are fans when they are really just followers. The real fan is an artist in his or her own right. The real fan is a believer, the disciple who stands next to you before others can see the full picture. The real fan creates something quite different with the experience; sometimes it is visible and other times not so obvious.

I am very grateful for those who continue to read my writings here and share however, whenever and wherever.
Here is the link to the video in case it doesn’t open up within the post. I wanted to place it in my vault for future nights.

 

Still Sundays

April 1, 2012.

April fool’s day. Yes, let’s have a worldwide recognition day to reflect that we are all such fools. We know so little and therefore we have so many experts of Knowing!

I want the weather gods to say, “Just Joking!” I want to hear It is all just a hoax that it is December temperatures in April. There is no global warming heading to an ice age. “Please laugh already!” I want to hear from the cold front that lasts longer and longer each month every passing year. I don’t want historians to describe in words “what was once known as Spring”; I want future generations to be able to experience it. Somewhere.

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Yesterday I was a bandwagon fan. I watched the final four NCAA tournament because University of Kansas was playing and if they won they would  advance  for the final game to compete for a national championship.

I attended  University of Kansas for undergraduate studies. Lawrence, Kansas. A small, sleepy, beautiful college city surrounded by smaller farm towns. What do I miss the most? The vibrant colors of the seasons and despite it being a college town the locals had so much to offer to the communities. I miss some of the most dedicated and passionate professors in the liberal arts department. I have been truly lucky: most of my encounters with professors in academia have been with folks who were really passionate about teaching and learning. A few exceptions come to mind, but they are not enough to taint the entire picture.

I miss that I didn’t know how much it had to offer when I was there. I compare thinking about Lawrence days akin to having a freshly cut coconut in front of you and only taking one sip and not continuing despite knowing how divinely refreshing it is. Lawrence was a coconut and I didn’t want to peel. I just wanted out. The energy of the place, sacred, clashed with the influx of college students who were there just to be there and didn’t know why they were drawn to such a town other than its sports culture. The clash was draining and I, similar to others, sought how to escape.

KU won the championship last year in 2008. We await results for 2012.

Some days I believe 2011, and even parts of 2012 so far, have been running parallel to 2008. From tangible similarities such as the  Superbowl opponents and NCAA tournament to choices masked in glittery newness but in actuality they lead to 4 years backwards instead of something truly new and forward.

Why the trickery, Time? What do you want?

Some choices that feel ‘new’ are only bright orange cones warning against the ditches that suck us back into the past, away from the hairpin turning point demanding new consciousness. Drive carefully.

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I had a dream I was in a circus and so was my entire family. It was a lot of work to fool and impress people. So my brother Zain and I came up with the idea of just writing and drawing stories to entertain ourselves.

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There exist such truths that upon telling them we cut any and all energetic chords with the past.

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I am so tired of racism. I am tired because it does exist. I am tired because there is Black and White and all shades in between and the issues are not as black and white and most people don’t understand that. I am tired because it effects us all, not just one person. I am tired because incompetence doesn’t have a skin color. I know for a fact that it is hard for people of color to break into mainstream literary publications. I am not sure though if it is due to conscious racism but just an inability to relate to a story and therefore the rejections. What do we call racism without attachment to race? Ignorance.

I have friends from so many different ethnic backgrounds and I don’t mention that as a get-out-of-jail-of-ignorance pass. In fact, those of us who do have friends of different backgrounds need to be even more mindful of the reality “out there” because often, at least in my case, a lot of my friends are exceptions to the rule.

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I leave this Sunday with two thoughts. I do not have the explicit permission to share the names so I won’t.   I didn’t know I would be sharing them this Sunday morning so I didn’t ask permission in advance.

This is from an email I received regarding certain types of writings:

In yoga, when we breathe into a pose it gets easier. I like to “breathe into” awkward or challenging situations instead of running away. I like to think that it makes us stronger in the long run. Sometimes people see this as intimidating. I tend to view it as mindfulness or accepting consciousness – which isn’t always the easiest thing to be.

And yes it’s not easy to reveal our true selves (and give birth) in public. Fakebook gives the illusion that all our lives our perfect and birth is painless. But the reality is that life can oftentimes be painful. And when we reveal this reality to others it’s contagious. Maybe because it challenges the status quo? Or maybe because we view life through a different lens? It’s certainly not the most “socially acceptable” thing to do.

Every once in a blue moon there is an exchange where I feel I have truly connected. I don’t care if this person is a friend of many years who has known me for a long time or a stranger I will never see again. And the connecting isn’t about my or the other person understanding something on a personal level but a bond of two (or more) individuals’ mutual understanding. This type of connecting amplifies Knowing and becomes a charged force that runs brighter on the trail of this Vast Mystery called human consciousness.

It simply makes me feel alive.

And this is from a text:

Sometimes it seems as if nothing is happening—and then it happens!

A very simple reminder about how things go and how we just don’t know when momemtum becomes a popcorn bag.

 

I really do wish I could offer the names behind the aforementioned thoughts but I really don’t plan what happens in Stillness. Most mornings I really don’t think I will write anything. I start with the weather because it reminds me how human I am: so very dependent on something that is not in my control. As much as it makes me angry when it is not how I want it to be, it also reminds me—immediately—how much is in my control, that I choose to feel like shit over it or ignore it by accepting what is and doing something in accordance with nature.

But as in life, so through Stillness, you only know what is possible if you walk it. In my instance when I begin writing it truly feels as if I have been plugged into something and thoughts fall like Tetris blocks, one on top of another, until it all clicks SENSE.

I am still developing the muscles to swim in the deep waters of stillness required to finish fiction.

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I will be enjoying a Still Sunday next Sunday with family instead of writing. I will resume writing the following Sunday.

Wishing everyone a marvelous April filled with daffodil memories and moments that will fuel the entire summer as new.

 

Let the rain kiss you. ~ Langston Hughes, “April Rain Song”

 

 

Gratitude.

~a.q.s.

 

 

 

Occupy Stillness. Viktor Frankl: the challenge of potential meaning to fulfill

November 20, 2011.

Still Sundays.

 

The New York City skyline never gets old.

I am getting older; I like it.

Love too never gets old.

This month is over, this year is over, my obsession with time, truth, and love continues.

What do I want to be when I grow up? A writer? A doctor? A teacher? A lawyer? A writer? This time I get to decide how I want to be, not who based on what.

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 People have recurring dreams. I don’t.

My latest obsession is putting into words this “recent” dream: I am in a field of teal colored dragonflies. They are everywhere. The field is on the edge of a horizon or so it feels. I have a map but I give it back to this man whom I call the Wizard. He says we don’t need a map. We jump off the horizon on a net made of these dragonflies and we are in awe at the number of shades that exist within the color blue. The dream repeats itself so I can note details. The dream repeats itself so I can note details. I wake up remembering very little other than I should google the south of France.

My search yields images that pale in comparison to the colors in my dream. But I am not worried. Sooner or later I will come across a painting or drawing or photo that will be a déjà vu recognizing and words will come from a place that is beyond me.

My compulsion to put images, thoughts, and ideas into words keeps growing at an exponential rate. Untruths created free from the reigns of accountability are some blood and I am perpetually thirsty to understand. But I don’t want to harm anyone as I suck the marrow for what’s real. My compulsion to lift the curtain of fantasy comes from knowing the real is more fascinating, more powerful, more magical, and unparalleled than all the seductive escapes. The greatest story is the one you will actually live if you drop the script. Metaphors and symbols exist to help us understand but when we become more fixated on the metaphor than what the metaphor is attempting to show then we are deluded in living through metaphors than being one.

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Away from the Internet for a day I returned to discover videos and photos of an officer in riot gear blasting pepper spray into the faces of seated protesters at a northern California university, UC Davis.

It is standard law enforcement procedure preferred to touching, shoving, and kicking to force a body of people to leave premises. Leaving the field of “right”—the police have to honor laws which provide for protecting the rights of others who may not want to protest, including property rights—-and “wrong”—the protestors have a right to protest and unnecessary force was used—behind, I was perplexed to learn every other article reporting “calls for the chancellor’s resignation” and how she is accountable. What struck me was how challenging it was for me to find a single news report where I could get facts. Just facts. All I wanted was a report offering what actually took place. I don’t doubt that even in such a report there would be some bias because observations remain subjective despite our objective attempts but it would be better than sensationalizing non-facts!

This particular protest to “occupy” UC Davis campus may appear different than what actually began at Wall Street months ago against the corporations. However, at the core this too is primarily about injustice. I am quite familiar with the bureaucratic nature of academic institutions that feel no different than the 1% of corporations. That being said, want to occupy UC Davis or any other campus? Find a way to learn that doesn’t require a stamp of approval by them. More than half the people who attend colleges do so not to attain “higher education” but just to get a degree, pressure from parents, or because that is what “I am supposed to do.” I am all about learning but you can’t occupy a system before you can accept why you are part of the system in the first place.

When a single movement initially about one thing becomes a movement about many things there is great momentum but also great danger. Occupy these colleges that just want to make money and not provide any education. Occupy these tenured professors who don’t care about teaching. Occupy the tuition raises that still don’t allow one to sign up for classes one actually wants. Occupy these police officers who are protecting the corporations, the chancellors. Occupy the restaurant I can’t afford. Occupy self-defense with a gun.

When I pull back and look at the big picture I see an outrage about injustice, where your hard work doesn’t count anymore, where nepotism has hijacked possibilities. Possibilities were exactly what made United States unlike any other country.

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Still Sundays

October 2nd.

Lymph nodes for spiritual bacteria. Dialogue with the body (video link to blindfolded yoga with Marco Rojas). Notes from Protests and Revolutions: the phenomena needed for a revolutionary movement.

 

The windows in the bedroom had to be closed last night. The room was chilled from the October breeze, a carrier with a post-card from the future: winter is around the corner.

I wish I didn’t write as slowly as I do. I wish I didn’t see putting words on paper as setting lights on a stage (and on worse days delivering thought babies!). I wish I wrote as fast on Sunday mornings and when I attempt fiction as when I am writing an email.

However, I am grateful to this morning’s stillness that is welcoming my haute couture thoughts as if they are walking on some red carpet.

Another autumn filled with the beautiful mystery of organic decomposition.

Knowledge that we are dying is a maître d’ that oversees our reservations about life. We are not afraid of death but some long, lingering pain that may lead to it. How we handle pain then is how we handle living.

That is why I practice yoga*, whether the fad stays or goes, to explore pain and pleasure, real and imagined. My mother is always reminding us that dopamine, “the pleasure chemical,” is not only triggered by pleasure/joy but pain too.** The body can very well become addicted to this self-induced chemical. You can’t control the chemical reaction, might as well control the emotional stimuli.

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There is something about ten o’clock I don’t like. It doesn’t matter if it is in the morning or at night. I love eight o’clock. I also like eleven o’clock. Just 10:oo a.m. or p.m. makes me feel unfit for time. I don’t know what it wants me to feel when the hands on the clock separate slightly like scissors to create that statement that it is ten o’clock. If you search the terms “ten o’ clock” or “10 o’clock”, like I just did on the Internet, some very interesting things come up. They didn’t distract me for long given none resonated with any feeling I have about 10 o’ clock. I think it is simply that ten o’clock makes me feel that time doesn’t really belong to me for I feel no attachment to any particular emotion to time at that hour.

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Lymph nodes are found all through the body and act as filters or traps for foreign particles. They are important in the proper functioning of the immune system. The increased numbers of immune system cells fighting the infection will make the node expand and become “swollen.” They become inflamed or enlarged in various conditions, which may range from trivial, such as a throat infection, to life threatening such as cancers.

Reality is a trampoline. Where are the lymph nodes for spiritual bacteria? I feel our body ailments are a reflection of the vast pool of emotions that hang loosely within and those emotions too that we attract or maintain in our social pools.

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At least 700 have been arrested in the most recent “Occupy Wall Street” protests on the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City for not staying on the pedestrian walkway during their protests.

I couldn’t help reviewing my notes from my Protests and Revolutions course as part of my International Studies major back in the days of college academics. I had the privilege of taking a course right after 9/11 from a professor who had spent his life studying protests, revolutions, and terrorism.

I share:

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Still Sundays

August 14th.

“The present is the whole of the past concentrated.” ~ Iqbal; Bernard Shaw on Tolstoy’s “What is Art”?; opinions about opinions; Anders, the homeless man in London, on books.

 

I awoke this Sunday morning in some rainforest. The rain, glossy chandeliers, was falling without crashing. It took me a minute to realize I was in New York City.

It was nice to take a break from putting thoughts on the braille made of words last Sunday. Does Stillness too take a break? No, I don’t think so. We do. It’s hard to swim in peace: no sharks of conflict that actually bite, no shore of tomorrow, no ship of yesterday, how long can you stay afloat in the now?

Words don’t come as easily as they once did. Is that what the beginning of old age of understanding looks like? The head of understanding has silver hair that sparkle. The more you understand, the more calcium of precision lost in your bony words. Maybe I don’t want to understand after all, just like people who don’t want to grow old. Both are inevitable, might as well do it gracefully, which means more stretching and less running.

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Hello Sunday, August 14th 2011.

It’s my brother’s birthday. This particular brother works for Los Angeles’ law enforcement and is assigned to the special unit called “Counter Terrorism and Special Operations.” That is a fancy way of saying he is the main bridge between the oceans of confusion, fear, and understanding. He is the communication vehicle amongst all who have many reasons to not trust one another: the L.A.P.D., the United States federal government, immigrant citizens and legal residents, the extremely wealthy Muslims who own the strings to various lobbyists to the guy who works at the local 7-11 who most can’t tell apart from a Bangladeshi or an Indian, those Muslims who like parasites have found a home in the United States’ skin to spread fear and hate using religion as an excuse, and also those Muslims who have fled their respective countries so they can worship a God however they wish or no God at all without being persecuted for their beliefs.

Happy birthday, Prince. I admire your courage and have tremendous respect for your efforts to maintain harmony with integrity in a very chaotic world. Thank you for your service.

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“The Beauty Myth”

Mama says it is to men’s advantage to recognize the reservoir of strength that is a woman (regardless of a man’s sexual preference). But in order to achieve this, she says, it demands a lot of deconstruction which begins by looking beyond a woman’s physical appearance and a man’s attachments to conscious and unconscious roles she is supposed to play. But that deconstruction can begin only when a woman is able to see herself beyond her physical appearance. She also says that unfortunately the stereotypes that exist about women exist because majority of the women are not strong enough to break them. If you look a certain way, you must be flirtatious. If you have ambition, you must be needy and willing to do anything. If you are vulnerable and expressive, then you are weak. If you are this, you must be that. If you are not, who are you?

The world doesn’t know what to do with an intelligent woman who doesn’t need but wants (a man or a woman, depending on her sexual preference, or preference for anything for that matter).To this mama replied, “The world doesn’t know what to do with anyone who can think for him or herself and isn’t desperate to be liked.”

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It was lovely to meet this homeless man last night, Anders, who ran away from the riots taking place in North London. I found him near where I was staying and we chatted for some time last night. At one point during the conversation he said, “I am poor no doubt, but I am neither crazy nor desperate and I have my set of values I live by no matter what.” I will be writing more about him later with his photo but that part of the conversation comes to mind because here was a man, just fleeing for his physical, not material, safety from the other looters, without a home to go sleep in, and he was NOT desperate. Not desperate for a woman, friendship, “re-tweet”, or anything. He was craving a cigarette but he was not willing to do anything different than be himself and maybe ask a stranger, once or twice, in order to get one.

I am grateful to have a mother who showed me that showing my cleavage wasn’t the equivalent of being sexually liberated and neither was flirting with men without an intention to carry that flirting further necessary, in order  to be a sensual being. I am grateful to my father who taught me that the way I carry myself should speak enough to command respect, that I didn’t have to dress any particular way. I am grateful to my brothers who were and are great friends to me and my sister. They made us feel that anything they could do we could too, and sometimes even better. I am grateful to the male friends in my life who respect me and value my friendship enough to respect the boundaries necessary to cultivate an authentic friendship. I am grateful to the women I call my friends, I recognize the high standard to be considered one but I have my reasons.

I have lost enough people in my life due to my values that I lavishly celebrate the few who are in my closest circle.

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I came across this book at my cousin’s in Cambridge and typed some excerpts from the final chapter.

From The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf:

 

The fact is, women are not actually dangerous to one another. Outside the myth [the myth of “beauty”], other women look a lot like natural allies. In order for women to learn to fear one another, we had to be convinced that our sisters possess some kind of mysterious, potent secret weapon to be used against us—the imaginary weapon being “beauty.”

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Still Sundays

What skin color is art?  1925. Inhaling the energy of Theodore Dreiser, Wharton Esherick, and Jasper Deeter. Guardians of the Flame.

October 10th.

If you would like to know what Still Sundays is about, please take a quick gander here and just read the third paragraph. Thanks.


The neighborhood of Mount Airy in Philadelphia boasts a variety of architecture but the grand Victorians dominate. The beautiful houses seem as old as the glorious trees and forest canopy; the varied flower gardens are crafted within breathtaking stone landscaping. This makes every turn around the corner ready for the perfect photograph or painting. The historic homes are as unique as the people inside: playwrights, doctors, lawyers, professors, etc.

Stillness pours seamlessly when surrounded by an abundance of nature.

One of my closest friends—we have been friends for almost twenty years—lives in Philly. This is not my first time visiting so I am quite familiar with different neighborhoods and suburbs. I will not elaborate on stillness here given there exists a previous Still Sunday from a different area of Philadelphia.

This weekend’s visit was unique because my friend was a lead in a historic play located in a legendary location.

And she is an African-American.

The character she played amongst an all white cast was that of a white female who gets murdered.

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Soccer In Sun And Shadow

I am drooling over a new book I just bought: Soccer in Sun and Shadow by Eduardo Galeano.

You can read more about the book here. Having read only a few pages I highly recommend it. The writing is delicious and moves along easy.

He writes, “Years have gone by and I’ve finally learned to accept myself for who I am: a beggar for good soccer. I go about the world, hand outstretched, and in the stadiums I plead: ‘A pretty move, for the love of God.’ And when good soccer happens, I give thanks for the miracle and I don’t give a damn which team or country performs it.”

“The history of soccer is a sad voyage from beauty to duty.”



The Reconstruction Of Male-Female Relations In Developing Nations And Its Implications For Nation Building

Disclaimer: Although there exist exceptions to all types of generalizations and stereotypes, they remain exceptions; therefore, until the exceptions stand out to the extent that they defy the rule, the majority determines the actuality. That being said, I am grateful to know some anomalies who also happen to be my friends who are exceptional beacons for their communities and countries. Moreover, this article is at best a prologue to a possible research paper in need of further substantiating research.

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