I’ve been assigning my summer students writing and occasionally writing models for them to look at. Here’s one from this assignment. “I don’t know if I can run another step,” I thought to myself as I hobbled down San Vincente Boulevard. The sun was blazing down on me as I stayed as close to the … Continue reading Step By Step
I am running towards an always-moving finish line, my heart like the 20th mile of a marathon, tired but still moving.
I wish I had more time.
Oh, kiddos. Where do we even begin?
The storm of Latinidad hits all in one night. We make enchiladas (from Costco, sure. I’m tired and haven’t made them from scratch in years) and the episode of House Hunters International on TV is about a Mexican-American family deciding to move to Puerto Vallarta to reconnect with their roots. We watch and dream of moving … Continue reading The People Who Danced
What would it mean to seek and give love that is bigger than ourselves?
Sitting on my couch in the apartment I have not left in days, I bury my face in my hands and cry. Today, I am mourning. I am mourning the students I did not get to see yesterday, the joyful laugher that did not escape our mouths together. I am mourning the plane I did … Continue reading Today, I am Mourning.
I stepped into a clearing with only birdsong and pine-needle-whispers as company, and asked myself, “How could I share this?” Would the tall, straight lines of a letter “T” conjure the proud lines of the shedding trees, here for years, watching over you now when you enter? What could I write down to help you … Continue reading The Clearing
You never felt like a pretty girl.
My hips are a drum rhythm that I have never known how to handle.
Society often accepts a secondary source’s narrative instead of the primary source voices who have actually lived that story.
“So, what? You want us to talk white?”
I had never, ever thought about getting a tattoo in my whole life. But, my whole world had shifted, and I needed to do something drastic.
She sobs out the word as she looks at the crack of light in the Cave. “Mama?”
Africa did not ask me if I was worthy; it simply asked that I exist in kinship with it.
My panic is not always the out-of-my-control physical reaction I often write it as.
Having others frequently question my identity forced me to dig deep to actually figure out who I am and what my cultures mean to me.
I am 31, standing in the bathroom at the school I teach in, trying to be okay with how I look.
Panic can just be the sometimes-storm-cloud in my forecast, and I don’t have to wait for it to pass alone anymore.
He slipped silently out of my life, but I will not afford him that luxury. I will not go voiceless. If he remembers me and looks for me, my face is there, my smile ringing like a bell that will not be smothered.
Running is where we come we come back to our most human, the purest versions of ourselves, without all the things we try to put between us as others.
Running did what it’s always done: shown the only limits are the ones I put on myself.
I once had someone jokingly ask if I was a vampire. “How many hours of sleep do you normally get a night?” The question comes from everywhere– doctors, coworkers, my parents. “Eight” is always the preferred response, most people respond that they six to seven, with a sad sigh and a wave of the hand, … Continue reading Sleep, Now.
I am, now, so grateful for the sadness I felt.
There was grace in knowing that the work will keep moving us forward, even when we doubt it’s potential.
This is not a triumphant story.
I have the path ahead of me and a choice of moving towards anger or moving towards love.
I think I am happiest when I am loping through the mountains of the American West.
It’s important to seek out the pauses where the universe forces us to stop, let ourselves recover, and appreciate the moment we are in.
There are days when the monsters win.
Joy is the bone-deep belief that there is beauty and magic in your life, if only you are willing to wait.
“Today, I will talk about gaslighting,” the boy started his speech. I smiled, proud of him for choosing such an interesting topic. As he continued, though, the parts of his speech meant to be dry facts, hit all the soft, wounded places I am trying to let recover and heal. “Gaslighting is a form of … Continue reading The King’s Speech
When the unthinkable happens and we are without words that could console or heal. When the tragedy is too senseless, the wells of our sorrow without any seeming end to its depths. When there are no answers– only questions, anger, the curled fist, hurling at the sky, Why Why Why a gaping, sorrowed wail echoing … Continue reading The Prayer
Fuzzy-fingered, she pulls up old messages— an archeologist searching for some kind of hidden meaning or a code she could not break. Maybe now— when the dust has settled and the light is better— she will be able to understand what happened. Instead, flips through the old notes, trying to figure where the bones of … Continue reading Bones
I wrote but didn’t publish poems the past few days. Stop. Breathe. You have time. You don’t need to put everything down all at once. You don’t need to live everything all at once. Find quiet pleasure in the feeling of your breath swelling then ebbing out of your chest, knowing you have your body … Continue reading Find the Body Home
she will pay for existing to be bombed in the first place.
How many unheard voices live between these lines?
‘God’s kaleidoscope,’ you marvel.
When the last, best thing spills forth from your lips, what will be the story you tell?
Is remembering a pilgrimage, a gauntlet, a way to ensure you will never, ever find yourself in this place again?
My body is unable to rest with the term “smooth sailing” anymore.
She has been practicing her sleight of hand for years now.
At some point I’m going to need to stop burning my life down if I want to keep anything.
Ultimately, what staves off fear and helplessness is connecting with and loving each other, even when it feels impossible.
The first thing that gets you is the lack of sleep.
Each step was a silent prayer of gratitude and hope, a testament to my faith that things would get better.
If love is the measure of our devotion and investment in something, then I have been having an intense love affair for the past few months.
I have spent a lifetime cleaning up messes only to become the mess myself.
Reprinted from Education Week Teacher I am sitting in my car, and I’m weeping. While one could argue that, as a naturally emotional person, this is not an uncommon occurrence, tonight I am crying hard. Nothing has happened, except I just saw a play with a girlfriend that has hit me in the gut and made … Continue reading Cages and Cogs: Considering Education and Colonialism
Let’s be real: I’ve been all over the place these past few months.
The reason why Día De Los Muertos is powerful is that Latinos found a way to dance in the ashes and find joy in death.
You always assumed your love triangle phase would happen in your twenties.
I trust so deeply in the idea that the more loving a life I lead, the more love will come to me
I was reminded that I wrote this 5 years ago. To date, it might be one of my favorite pieces of poetry I’ve ever written.
I’m turning 30 on Friday, and I know I should sit down and reflect, but I really don’t know if I’ll have time. If anything, I listen to this and smile at the girl I once was. I no longer talk to the subject of this poem, but it is such a nice time capsule of who I was. And I am joyful that while I’m wiser and more self-sufficient, I am still as unfettered and loving as I was then.
This time, I am trying to be brave. I stepped out of the ship I built and decided I needed to learn how to swim.
Yesterday, during some downtime on set, I called my abuela. She has a surgery coming up, and I wanted to check in and say hello. After a few rings, I heard her pick up. She has a cell phone now, and so I was greeted with an immediate, “Mamacita!” one of the many nicknames she … Continue reading A Happy Girl
Today was my first NB meeting and… I really dug it. Definitely a lot of issues to consider re: board efficiency, community involvement, and getting work, but I had a blast. I’m going to do quick summaries of cool community services I hear about via Instagram Story. If you want more details, you can always … Continue reading First Neighborhood Meeting
I saw The Last Days of Judas Iscariot and it hit me right where I needed it to. I’m re-reading the play and stumbled upon this gem in the first few pages. I also think that religion gets a bad rap in this country and that non-maniac-type people who are religious or spiritual have a responsibility to … Continue reading It’s about You. It’s about the collective Us
From Education Week: Honesty In The Fight: What ‘Game of Thrones’ Teaches Us About Education Discussions
I’ve been thinking a lot about trust, honesty, and transparency lately. Here’s something I put together for EdWeek. There are always three ways to handle a difficult conversation: you can skirt around the issue; hoping someone understands your meaning; you can simply run from it; or you can stand up, look the problem in … Continue reading From Education Week: Honesty In The Fight: What ‘Game of Thrones’ Teaches Us About Education Discussions
I am sure I will be anchored forever by the bed, in a broken harbor of my own making.
There’s a love not necessarily for a culture, but rather for the very land itself. For the actual soil on which we move on each day, for each pine tree blanketing the mountain.
Smile at the violence used to create the unexplored gaping canyons of yourself.
As much as I love stories, as much as I’ve been focusing my life on storytelling, I see now that sometimes my own stories hold me hostage.
Recently, I’ve found myself running again. Certainly not as often as I used to, and without the data to analyze (my Garmin band broke in JanuaryWhat’s Next: Teacher, Writer, …? and I’ve yet to replace it), but I’m still running anywhere from 3-6 miles 4 times a week. It’s funny, as much as I start … Continue reading Finding My Way Home
Love was knowing I was worthy.
I’m becoming certain that, as unexpected as it may seem, there is nothing quite as mindful as getting punched in the face or choked by your own collar.
I still enjoy running, but is running still a core part of who I am? That’s a harder question.
In the moments where I have been most broken, most vulnerable, I have been met time and time again with an overwhelming amount of kindness.
Someone you love can rip out your heart and you will *still* be able to get up and keep writing. Your story cannot be ended by anyone but you.
Lent is the opportunity to actively step back and re-evaluate what you actually need, what you can let go of, and what you can do to enrich your life.
And, after years of telling kids that our job was to be civically engaged– now was the time to put my money where my mouth was.
Well, 2017, we’re certainly in the full swing if you, aren’t we? It’s been more than a month since I’ve written. That’s the longest hiatus I’ve gone on since I started this thing a few years ago. Recently, someone (hi, Jenae!) asked me what my writing goals were when I began this blog. Honestly– I … Continue reading And Where Are You Now?
Originally in EdWeek For some, the morning will seem like any other. They will bounce and bound to school, filled with childlike ignorance at what the grown ups are doing thousands of miles away. They, of whooping joys and laughter that dances, even though they are frightened, even when they are confused, even when they are … Continue reading What I Will Teach On Inauguration Day (and Every Day After)
Rebuilding won’t always happen with fanfare and confetti.
At the end of the day, a marathon isn’t just a race. Every mile you’ve run is a step toward the eventual finish line of the marathon.
Anger or frustration is not a problem. The problem is when we believe we are abandoned through any of that.
Many thanks to KITV for featuring me on their Honolulu Marathon segment! Click here to watch!
After a very divisive election, it seems that the maelstrom of online debates has only grown more violent on our social media feeds. From subtweets to twenty-plus long comment threads on Facebook, we are a clearly a nation devoted to righteously tapping our thumbs and clacking our keys. Obviously, I’m not necessarily against that– I’m … Continue reading We All Have a Problem With Race. Let’s Talk About It.
I slam my hands against the screen, desperately trying to get her to hear me. I am writing her stories, telling her that I understand, that it’s okay, that it won’t be this way forever.
I am sitting laying curled up in bed, trying to overcome a massive food coma. It has been nearly a month since I’ve written. I don’t know what to tell you, except that I’ve just been… tired. Don’t get me wrong, I still write over at EdWeek, which has much of my focus. Still, I … Continue reading Fleeting Peace
While I have acknowledged my own struggles with anxiety, the shame hasn’t fully gone away.
Recently, I asked my students to write about something that had recently begun or ended in their life. Their ears perked up immediately, and I have to say the prompt got me thinking too. What had I given up in my life recently? What have I learned to let go of, in order to make space … Continue reading Redefining Measurements
Like the forever-bachelor in their first relationship, adjusting to something long term can be hard.
To be a woman in “Trump’s America,” is actually realizing that a culture that has commodified your body now has a megaphone headed towards the throne.
Once you surrender to the fact that you cannot control the outcome, you are free to relish what you have now.
We put so many hours into building these bodies to perform. At the end, all we can do is try and honor the work we have put in.
I am a firm believer that the way you show love and care is being honest and willing to critically analyze things.
I am still trying to write a thing. I don’t know how it’s going. Here’s the thing: I like telling stories. That doesn’t make me special. I’m a sometimes-writer and full-time English teacher. I have spent years fitting events into narrative structures: dynamic characters, dramatic tension, nuanced relationships wind through conflict and still end with a … Continue reading The Stories We Tell Ourselves
Ma, I’ve been thinking a lot about what “home” means these days. When I’m stranded between oceans in the middle of an always-changing land mass, it’s hard to ever feel like I’m on steady ground. Then, I remember that perhaps I have always felt most at home when out at sea because swimming in the … Continue reading Ocean Hearted: A Poem For My Mother on Her Birthday
This week, Teaching Tolerance featured something I wrote about the words we use for women: For nearly a decade, I had sought approval under different names, ones much less badass than “beast.” I reveled in being called “cute,” “small” or “too pretty” to do something. When that same coach had, earlier that month, described me as … Continue reading Beasts and Badasses
The problem is that if you keep splitting yourself into only the pieces you deem “lovable” or “acceptable” you will soon find that there is nothing left at all.
Sometimes running is hard. It’s bloody. It can make you cry. But there is value in getting back up when we fall.
The two stories seem juxtaposing, but they are not parallel universes.They force me to walk a knife’s-edge worth of stable ground amidst two worlds that, if I am not careful, could swallow me whole.
A version of this appeared in EdWeek. 8/6/16 My dears, I’m so excited to welcome you into our classroom this year! I’m excited to get to know you or, for some of you, get re-acquainted with the wonderful humans you are becoming. Here are three important truths I want you to know: Things are going … Continue reading A Letter to My Kids on my First Day
I keep meaning to sit down and write. I have ideas. I swear! It’s just been kind of a crazy time. We get kids in a few weeks, and I’m excited to hunker down and get to work. In the meantime, I’ve been admittedly writing poetry and fiction. Here’s a short excerpt from two poems, … Continue reading Poetical
Many thanks to Doug Robertson and CUE for letting write a little about how running a marathon is a little like teaching. We all know the moment: you are moving your way along a trail— real or proverbial— and all of a sudden, the thought pops into your head: “I don’t want to do this anymore. … Continue reading Hitting the Wall and Moving Forward
Sometimes the path is unclear, but attempting to navigate them on my own has taught me an invaluable lesson: maybe you just need to push forward.
“Last time it snowed, you were one person. Now, you’re another.” – The Paris Letter, Jon Robin Baitz The last time I was in this house, it was nearly two months ago to the day. I’d try and recount the weekend in detail to you, but I’d be lying if I said I could. Here … Continue reading Escape: Meditations on “Home,” Day 1
Side note: I wrote a piece about meeting with my students re: recent events over at EdWeek that, for me, is a companion to this. “They identified the shooter in Dallas last night,” I am on my phone, wrapped in bedsheets, reading the news to my boyfriend, Chase, as he gets ready for work. My thumb … Continue reading Head Above Water: On Self-Care
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