1,000 miles: step 78

Alright. Reader, I’ll let you know what I did last summer, this past summer in fact. It’s called summer camp.

I don’t believe I’ve ever had a summer like this one. It was fun and jarring every day. I have some experience with kids at the middle school classroom level, so I know that any day with kids is a recipe for an unordinary day. At camp, the odds of a hectic day are increased. Never have I ever seen so many boo-boos and running feet or heard so many laughing and shouting mouths. Imagine doing this full-time for three months. Now, see, summer camp is for the strong at heart!

The Summer Camp Experience: whoo. ah ahhhh.

I turned 22 years old at camp, too. I can’t wrap my head around that.

I picked up some new skills, and that is always a plus in my book. I can now finger-knit and sew on a machine. I can also program a moose to move–he has to be on an iPad though. I can assemble a robot and cardboard furniture. I can help resolve an argument between friends. I can dance! (Ok ok, so that last one’s quite not true, but I can dance with slightly more rhythm.)

1,000 miles: step 77

Dear reader, I’m still here.

My summer is concluding–next Monday is yet another college term, with the happy knowledge that I’m ever SO close to graduating. I keep telling myself that but 2017 is my year.

These past weeks, I’ve been writing less, reading less, which is not how my summer started. But who can write when there’s a summer camp experience to be lived and had? More on that to come.

For now, I want to leave you with scraps of poems I’ve been working on which are available through Prose.com:

Poem for the Body

&

Royalty

xo,

Claudia

 

1,000 miles: step 76

Lately, I’ve had to slow down.

The spring semester is over.  I knew a couple of the graduating seniors–thanks to (a short-lived) student writing adventure, so this was the first semester that I paid attention to graduations. Next year is also my graduating year. I started college fall 2011. Twists and turns have pushed me to George Mason, and I finally feel like it’s where I belong.

These days, I’m a lot more content, particularly when I ignore politics. I’ve had the chance to dig into reading, a hungry kind of reading that keeps me still for hours. Last week, I took a CPR and First Aid training course because why not. Summertime means possibilities.

Stay tuned–

Hey, Poet: World Poetry Day Awareness

March 21st marks the 16th anniversary of World Poetry Day. First observed in 2000, World Poetry Day is an initiative taken by United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to celebrate poetry as an art form and a cultural phenomena.

If you’re thinking poetry isn’t your thing or it’s a waste of time, I have a few words for you: you are a poem and poetry pays.

pay_with_a_poem_2016-731x1024

Julius Meinl Coffee‘s 2016 Pay With a Poem Poster

Julius Meinl, a global coffee and tea provider based in Europe, started celebrating World Poetry Day last year by using poems as currency, and this year, Pay With a Poem will be observed in over 1,000 locations across 30 countries. Currently, two U.S. cities located in Florida and Illinois are on Pay With a Poem’s location finder, though if you happen to be around Italy, Austria, Romania, or Germany, expect several coffee shops to hand you free coffee in exchange for your handwritten poem.

Dear America,

let’s start loving us some poetry and getting ourselves some free coffee. Doesn’t this Pay With a Poem promotional video make the smell of coffee ciruclate your nose and the sound of poetry kiss your ears?

Robert Frost says it best when he says “A poem begins with a lump in the throat; a homesickness or a love sickness.” Poetry can dig a nest into our hearts, but it’s often treated as a second class literary form in school curriculums. When poetry is taught in high school, it’s the type of poetry that makes people cringe. Those epically long poems, those tritely rhymed and metered sonnets, and those exceptionally esoteric word choices have some people fed up with poetry when we should actually be engaging with poems.

"Journal Entry"

Journal Entry” Joel Montes de Oca CC BY-SA 2.0

Everyone has a different taste, but there is a poem waiting for all of us. Whether you need therapy, a laugh, a dose of politics, or a mental workout, poems have you covered.

Here are 14 poems that will have you rethink the meaning and medium of poetry:

1. [i carry your heart with me(i carry it in] by e. e. cummings

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere

2. Story XI. The Lion who Hunted with the Wolf and the Fox by Jelal al-Din Rumi, translated from the Persian

A lion took a wolf and a fox with him on a hunting excursion,
and succeeded in catching a wild ox, an ibex, and a hare. He

3. For Jane: With All the Love I Had, Which Was Not Enough: by Charles Bukowski

I pick up the skirt,
I pick up the sparkling beads

4. Scars/To the New Boyfriend by Rudy Francisco

5. Are All the Break-Ups in Your Poems Real? by Aimee Nezhukumatathil

If by real you mean as real as a shark tooth stuck
in your heel, the wetness of a finished lollipop stick,

6. The Ballad Of The Landlord by Langston Hughes

Landlord, landlord,
My roof has sprung a leak.

7. Accents by Denice Frohman

8. wishes for sons by Lucille Clifton

i wish them cramps.
i wish them a strange town

9. Abecedarian Requiring Further Examination of Anglikan Seraphym Subjugation of a Wild Indian Rezervation by Natalie Diaz

Angels don’t come to the reservation.
Bats, maybe, or owls, boxy mottled things.

10. A Letter to My Dog, Exploring the Human Condition by Andrea Gibson

11. This Room and Everything in It by Li-Young Lee

Lie still now
while I prepare for my future,

12. I Stink by Roque Dalton, translated from the Spanish

I smell like the colour of mourning on those days
when flowers wilt due to their price

13. The Beloved by Paul Celan, translated from the German

She is standing on my eyelids
And her hair is wound in mine,

14. Buffet Etiquette by Hieu Minh Nguyen

Photo by Tyler Menezes CC BY-SA 2.0

Photo by Tyler Menezes CC BY-SA 2.0

Start small this World Poetry Day by sharing a poem or go big and campaign for a poet’s freedom of speech. Poetry can be dangerous: poets around the world are threatened and silenced for writing poems deemed too political or blasphemous.

Take over social media or write letters on behalf of poets like Ashraf Fayadh, who was almost sentenced to death in 2015 for sharing his poetry in Saudi Arabia. Find other dissident poets on Pen.org and help save a poet.

Need more time to find the rhythm of the poetry that runs through your blood, the lovely pump in your heart, the gentle wind chimes in your laughter, and the captivating hold of your stare?

April marks the 20th celebration of National Poetry Month in the U.S. Find your inner word genius and get to celebrating.

 

1,000 miles: step 75

Line for Hillary Clinton's Rally an Hour Before She Speaks

Line for Hillary Clinton’s Rally an Hour Before She Speaks

I find primaries and elections emotionally difficult. I find a lot of things emotional, okay?

But here’s why: I’ve been 18 and up for three years now but I can’t vote. Voting is another of those reminders of what privileges I don’t have because I’m still an immigrant.

I hate conversations in election years because when people ask me, “so, who are you voting for?” I feel naked: I don’t vote, and I hate saying those words. It’s like saying, I’m irrelevant. I don’t have a say in this country. I don’t have a say in a country that I’ve lived for 14 years now. 14 years.

This infuriates me because there are some people who can vote, but don’t register. Every vote matters because an un-cast vote is a silenced voice.

Today, when Hillary Clinton came to speak at my school, I was proud. Women in America have held the right to vote for almost a century, and they started running for presidency since 1872. I like that Ms. Clinton hasn’t given up in her campaign for presidency. That’s the mark of a strong leader. Don’t get me wrong, Senator Sanders’ got a fighting spirit too. The race is often tied between the two in the Democratic party, and that’s why every vote matters. People make a difference.

My next goal in life is to become documented. Rather than be a temporary protected citizen, I want to be a permanent resident. I’m not going big. I take what life gives me, but I will always want more.

I don’t hold financial aid in college, and I’m not going to downplay my need. There have been days when my mother could barely meet the rent, when a grocery trip was hell, and when I just plain wanted to quit. Coming into George Mason was tough. I knew I wasn’t going to be a full-time student. I knew I was going to have divide my time between work and school. I knew there would be days, and maybe weeks, where I didn’t want a college degree.

I just didn’t know how hard those days would be.

I’ve worked hard for the few scholarships I managed to find, and I’m so close to graduating with a Bachelor’s. I’ll go mad if I go into graduate school without the privilege of economic help that I deserve in every way.

Voting season gets me infuriated, and sometimes, that what a person who’s accepted her situation needs. Anger makes you crave a solution. I will find one.

1,000 miles: step 74

Friday morning found me wondering if kids should’ve gone to school. By evening, I started to believe.

The East Coast is covered in snow and Jonas just keeps going. Yesterday, I cancelled my in-home students and made the best call. Driving is not an option with the wind and feet of snow. My Honda Civic is actually turning into a Honda Hidden:

imageMy professors have long been anticipating that we’ll miss class time. This snow may well wait until spring to melt. I’ll need to pull out my boots from when I was in Great Barrington, MA–those boots’ time have come and they were made for walking.

So, 2016 is sure a bundle of surprises!

I have had my own personal surprises. The first week of January, I received a scholarship from Mason that covered nearly all my tuition expenses for the semester. This was beautiful. This will be the first time since I started college that I won’t have money dead-lines teasing me.

Another small surprise is that I’ll be writing for Mason’s student-run online newspaper, The Rival. My first post hit the Internet on January 20th. It was also my first movie review, and though I’m no critic, I really got into the review. I didn’t even go to the theater with the intention of writing about the film. Writing teaches you how to process visual stimuli! Writing is rewarding, but even as an English major, I don’t do enough.

At 21 years, I have no excuse not to write. I have a store full of memories and life in progress.

1,000 miles: step 73

I am thrilled to say that the 2015 semester is over and next year… I will reach senior status at school! The finish line is ever so close.

I thought about quitting several times, usually at the beginning of the semester. The expenses too great. Now, things haven’t gotten easier and tuition no less expensive… I’m getting stronger.

With this self-content, I’ll welcome the new year.

1,000 miles: step 72

Clouds-Airplaneview-Aug

Today I was  reminded that I have… a blog! One of the students I work with remembers me mentioning this blog way back-long-ago. It comes as a surprise to me that my young students DO listen and retain the oddest things. I know I’m still very young myself, but it often feels like they’re getting younger when they throw in a “Ms. Claudia, don’t you remember from last week?”

No. I do not. My head is full of work. I keep it moving, forward, forward.

I’ve been meaning to write earlier. I would’ve said something like: this has been the hardest year of my life.

But I haven’t lived long enough to make the judgement. It is, though, December 1st. This means I’ve made it another year and it has been incredible.

Over the summer, my mother visited my sister in El Salvador. My mother went out of the country for the first time since 2001. It wasn’t a long trip and I wasn’t able to go with her, but her joy is my joy.

Out of the blue–no joke–in September, my family grew! I now share my days with an uncle and little cousin. He is learning English and I’m overseeing his language acquisition–and I’m doing a pretty decent job might I add.

I’ve also had the pleasure of writing weekly poems this semester… and I have one due tomorrow! And so, I keep myself moving.

 

Youth

Slow
learning
optimists
daring to try
out.

Cinquain n. 2

Girly,
resist the mold
shock and resuscitate
the steel she society shunned:
flee script.