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    Spring backward. #photoaday #flowerstagram #firstdayofspring #spring #lastofwinter ❄️❤️ So yesterday, I ran a poetry workshop at a middle school and hearing the words from these youth, I feel a lot better about the world. One boy wrote a poem & was very shy about reading it. I offered to read it for him. To my surprise, he wrote about people wanting freedom and not being “illegal.” I hope he finds the courage some day to read the poem because these days, hate voices itself louder than love. Our kids deserve better role models. I didn’t grow up thinking about my immigration status, but I think many children have to now. 💔I’m at a very low point in my hope bank. I’m taking notes on how to say goodbye to a country. I think one way is love and one way is poetry.
#loveislouder #happyworldpoetryday This Sunday I made it to church at a Unitarian Universalist congregation. I arrived as a panelist for an immigration and human rights discussion. My audience was majority White. I started with a poem and then my college journey narrative. It is a heavy feeling to be a person who potentially faces deportation or undocumented status and to stand in front of an audience that though sympathetic, cannot imagine what your world is like. They listened to me and the other panelists very actively. One of the panelists, Klara Bilgin, showed us this poster-size cover of Time magazine’s March issue with her own addition “Why America?” At the end I was surprised that most people had comments rather than questions. When we say immigration is a controversial issue or a “hot topic,” it’s true. I got to see it today by people commenting on their experience traveling abroad without borders or their observations of how much labor is expected of undocumented immigrants. Many of them were proposing solutions. I wish Congress were as productive as these people were in their 15 or so minutes to comment and ask questions. #rageatCongress #votesmart #speakup Little sister poem. Be woke.❤️ #ajamonet #poem
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1,000 miles: step 88

February, I like to think, ends the winter season. At the very least, it serves as a transition point, a leap forward into spring. I’m going through similar leaps forward, or leap backwards? Read on for some general Claudia updates:

On the Job Market

Art in Congress

Art gallery in tunnel toward the Capitol

I’m now a FWD.us alumna, no longer an intern. My time at FWD was incredible. I gained so much confidence and knowledge about Capitol Hill. Before FWD, I had never stepped foot in the halls of Congress. I had never shaken the hands of a senator or representative, yet alone be in a meeting room with them.

But I don’t fancy myself a pro community organizer. Instead, I’m a starving artist at age 23. I got stuck with a poet’s body in a culture that doesn’t pay artists their cultural capital.

I have no idea what happens next in my life, but here are some things that are obvious and opposites: there are bills to pay; I’m a writer.

Oh, and I have 18 months of protection from deportation in this country. Good luck to me.

All I’ve Yet to See & Hear

There’s so much of America that I want to see and because there’s a legal clock ticking, I want to go far this year.

If I started listing the things and places I haven’t seen, I might as well hide under a rock. Last year was actually my first trip to New York City. I haven’t seen a live concert. I haven’t been to any Disneylands. I haven’t traveled abroad.

I can’t afford much of my bucket list because of the starving artist situation. Fortunately, I live in gorgeous Virginia and near Washington, DC. There’s a lot of sightseeing potential here.

Anyone want to publish me?

I decided to publish my first poetry book last summer. I’ve been in the “please publish me” game for less than a year. I’ve had single poems accepted into magazines–this past week it was a series of poems in Argot magazine.

To my deep disappointment, the whole manuscript hasn’t found a home. I could be patient, in another life. My book can’t wait for long. I’m feeling very anxious because of the whole legal clock ticking.

There’s moves I could be making right now: self-publishing. That is something that’s on my mind.



Junior youth power

Over the years, DoSomething.org has partnered with Meals on Wheels to run the Love Letters Campaign. I joined the campaign in 2015, and because I love keeping traditions, sent in Valentine’s Day cards to seniors until 2017. This year the campaign didn’t open; maybe it was due to funding for the scholarship tied to the campaign. I could be wrong, but I for sure didn’t want to stop sending cards.

I got the junior youth group I help run on the weekends together. We all made Valentine’s Day cards to send to Cards for Hospitalized Kids.

#ToImmigrantsWithLove is also coming up. It’s a tradition hosted by FWD.us to send love to immigrants on Valentine’s Day. Write a physical or digital letter and share online.

Make it a Happy Valentine’s!


Claudia Rojas is poeta. She’s also a TPS (Temporary Protected Status) holder. TPS protects individuals fleeing natural disaster and war on a temporary basis. The program has been extended for many years; no permanent solution has ever been presented. Currently, the countries of Haiti, Nicaragua, Sudan, and El Salvador have lost TPS and lives are at risk should Congress or America fail us. Call your member of Congress today through the FWD.us tool or find your representative’s info online. 


1,000 miles: step 87

TPS Event

Artwork by Eliza Kingsley for An Evening of Hope 2/10/18

On January 8th, I was given a kind of death sentence. That’s the date DHS announced to end El Salvador’s TPS (Temporary Protected Status).  I’ve had almost a month to process the implications of this, and I don’t feel like I’ve made big leaps. The thing is that I don’t want to process this information. I don’t want to live with September 2019 stuck in my throat because that’s what happens when I think about my future. I just can’t breathe.

It hurts to think about the possibility that I would have to pack my life and move into another country. For permanent residents and American citizens, travelling to another country is exciting; it’s doable. For me, travelling abroad was never an option. Travelling abroad is a luxury. It’s clearly expensive, but when you’re under a conditional program, it’s reckless.

Immigrating is not traveling. My mother didn’t bring me into the U.S. so we could vacation. She brought me here to live. I don’t know what it’s like to travel to a new country because of a desire to explore. I don’t know even know about airplanes. My passport’s never been stamped.

And now, in under two years, I could be forced into another country. It makes me furious because now I’m an adult, and I know what I want out of life. I deserve a say. I deserve to use my college degree.

There are a total of 200,000 TPS holders in the U.S. Over 23,000 of them live in Virginia, and I imagine that they are feeling angry, distressed, and betrayed right now. The numbers are big, but I don’t personally know many TPS holders. Most people don’t open with “My name is Claudia; I’m here in this country temporarily.”

My network is about to change. These past weeks, I’ve stumbled across young TPS holders online. I can anticipate their stories. The struggle to find financial scholarships. The struggle to renew a driver’s license. What I don’t know is what growing up was like for them because growing up is different for all of us. This Saturday, I get to learn about life with TPS from someone who’s not me or related to me.

This Saturday, February 10th, is the culmination of a month’s work. Together, with Haydi Torres, I co-host An Evening of Hope for the TPS Community. It’s an opportunity for the community to learn more about TPS and to enjoy a line up of artists standing in solidarity with this particular immigrant community.

It’s an event that I need because just like most people don’t open with their immigration status, most people don’t open with their solidarity. Sometimes, I’ll have a friend or college peer reach out to me and say “I’m reading your posts.” That’s as far as most interactions go. The rest of my time online is me speaking into a vacuum. I’m tired of that. I need more from people. I need people to stand up for immigrants because some days, it gets really hard to get out of bed. I want to hear from other people that I matter, that I’m here, that I belong.


Claudia Rojas is poeta. She’s also a TPS (Temporary Protected Status) holder. TPS protects individuals fleeing natural disaster and war on a temporary basis. The program has been extended for many years; no permanent solution has ever been presented. Currently, the countries of Haiti, Nicaragua, Sudan, and El Salvador have lost TPS and lives are at risk should Congress or America fail us. Call your member of Congress today through the FWD.us tool or find your representative’s info online. 

Immigrant Me: How It Feels When You Say I’ll Be Okay

Last night, the Senate passed a short-term budget extension, failing young immigrants for the third consecutive time within a one month period. Congress and Americans must hold themselves accountable, especially the every day American.

Up to 86% of Americans support Dreamers. But how many are calling and writing to Congress? So much of organizing work, on campuses and on the state level, is done by directly impacted people. United We Dream (UWD), for example, is regularly canvasing the halls of Congress, and their volunteer base is majority undocumented and DACA-mented youth.
When people say “you’ll be okay, just wait until the next President,” know you are not comforting anyone. I need more from you. I need your support with everything you’ve got.
Don’t say things will be okay; show me what you’re doing to make things okay for immigrants.

Mural on Upshur St, Washington DC

This means naming the Congress members that represent you.

 This means regular phone calls to Congress, and regular mail and email–demanding Congress to represent you. This means positives comments on the social media of spaces like NAKASEC, UWD, FWD.us, (CAP) Center for the American Progress. This means donating to the cause or showing up at actions.
And if you can’t get behind that? Stay informed and inform those around you. A great resource for updates is Informed Immigrant, which also includes a list of state organizations doing the important work of protecting immigrants.
For about a decade, I grew up in the U.S. without knowing that one day it could kick me out. I didn’t call myself immigrant. I called myself Claudia. I called myself girl. I called myself daughter. I called myself dreamer. You’d think I would figure things out after regular visits to take biometrics, but that was another “adult thing to do.”
At 17 years old, it dawned on me that Temporary Protected Status (TPS) had a say in my goals. TPS meant that I, along with 200,000 El Salvadorans, were vulnerable. For years afterwards, I felt guilt whenever TPS was renewed for El Salvador. It meant El Salvador was determined unsafe, but it also meant I could stay in the U.S. for another 18 months.
I owe my 17 years of living in the U.S. to the instability in my country of birth. Its high femicide rates, gang violence, and crumbling economy. Some say the country’s state is due to a U.S. funded civil war, so maybe, I owe those 17 years to America.
When DACA came into the picture in 2012, I wondered if that was the program for me: young, college-bound, model citizen. I wondered if DACA could make me less “temporary.” DACA work permits last two years. DACA was an essential program for 800,000 Dreamers, that is until President Trump ended it last year.
Now TPS is under attack and still, no pathway to permanent residency or citizenship is in sight. I am so, so tired of living out my life temporarily; my community has done it for nearly two decades. I have 18 months in the U.S., and that’s either enough time to pack and stomach the ache in my heart, or enough time for people and Congress to react.


Claudia Rojas is poeta. She’s also a TPS (Temporary Protected Status) holder. TPS protects individuals fleeing natural disaster and war on a temporary basis. The program has been extended for many years; no permanent solution has ever been presented. Currently, the countries of Haiti, Nicaragua, Sudan, and El Salvador have lost TPS and lives are at risk should Congress or America fail us. Call your member of Congress today through the FWD.us tool or find your representative’s info online. 

1,000 miles: step 86

It’s New Year’s Eve, and I’d like to enjoy that in under 9 hours, we’ll start a brand new year.  The thing is that you can put a name on it: “New Year’s” but without any collective effort and planning, it’s gong to be the same year masked under “2018.”

We don’t want 2017 to roll onto 2018. In 2017, the immigrant community received several hits:

We Have to Protect Immigrant Bodies

I recently watched From One Mistake: How Immigration Became My Very Personal Fight, a documentary available on YouTube. It’s told in a simple narrative style with Hendel Leiva speaking into the camera for most of the film with some glimpses of hate crimes on the national level, but with a focus on New York race relations.

In a candid way, Hendel shares with the audience that at one point in his life, he spat out hate speech to immigrants as a “prank.” It wasn’t long before his conscience and the worth of the human body caught up with him. In this hour long documentary, Hendel explains what steps he took to amend his past by turning to advocacy and empowering people to share their story. One of his projects is Immigration MIC, a podcast that features interviews with immigrants vocal in their community.


Photo: CC0 Creative Commons

The film is a story of redemption, and I wish more, if there are any, converts would share their story. I wouldn’t know about Hendel if he had not found me online and invited me to the conversation.

Stories shouldn’t collect dust in our hearts. Stories have to be passed on, through literature, through music, through film, through our very mouth. To protect all kinds of bodies next year, we need spaces for stories. We need ready ears.

2017 Was a Year of Not Listening

This year I worked with the Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment Program, a Baha’i sponsored community program. This is where I met Ron Lapitan, whose goal is to speak with all types of people regardless of religion or political background. His published book The Earth is One Country is part of that community goal.

This year, I had my own sort of revelation about community. The Culmore area, where I’ve grown up, has a reputation as a dangerous zone. For years, I’ve been cautious to know my own neighbors. Through the junior youth program, I met families and youth in the area. I learned their names. I learned to change my community by engaging with it.

When I see youth in community groups, I see potential. We have to start preparing the future early. And the stubborn adults of today? We have to understand what’s made them who they are and what misconceptions they carry.  This is particularly important online: ending disagreements with “you must be an idiot” or correcting people’s grammar with the goal of making your opinion “right” don’t make any of us morally superior.

I’ve been told some people are lost causes, and sometimes, when I’m feeling too woman, too brown, too immigrant, I think that myself. I don’t have any magic fix for the country, but let’s not wait until our present becomes a dirty past, until the history textbooks group 2018 with 2017 as another year that didn’t listen.


Claudia Rojas is poeta. She’s also a TPS (Temporary Protected Status) holder. TPS protects individuals fleeing natural disaster and war on a temporary basis. The program has been extended for many years; no permanent solution has ever been presented. Currently, the countries of Haiti, Nicaragua, and Sudan have lost their TPS designation. El Salvador, Claudia’s country of origin, has 200,000 TPS holders whose lives are at risk should Congress or America fail us. Call your member of Congress today through the FWD.us tool or find your representative’s info online. We cannot delay.


How To Help Young Immigrants In Addition to Prayer & Hope

Due to the current administration’s attitude toward immigrants and the fact that I’m an intern for an immigration reform organization, I’ve had plenty of opportunities to be vocal about immigration.

I started Claudia Documented in 2012.

Immigration- TPS - DACA

A postcard to my representative

I was seventeen years old and was halfway through my first year of college. I had lived in a kind of ignorant and blissful bubble. That year, I learned the full extent of holding a work permit. I was speaking with a financial aid counselor trying to explain Temporary Protected Status, the program that grants me a work permit.

I knew my document wasn’t called a visa or a green card. That’s how far my understanding went.

The financial aid counselor is the one that broke things down for me and pretty much broke my world.

I had known months into my first year of college that the school, Bard College at Simon’s Rock, was too expensive and that my merit scholarship wasn’t enough. As a first generation student, I also didn’t understand how tuition piled up. I imagined my mother and I, if I continued with my job and applied to scholarships, would be able to manage another year at the school.

In 2012, I learned why paying for school was getting so tough. Immigrants aren’t allowed financial aid and they’re ineligible for many scholarships. With that eye-opening moment, I began to see limits in my world, limits I didn’t know existed for me. It meant that I would not be able to wear those “I voted” stickers, yet alone, vote in elections. I’ve missed two presidential elections since turning 18. For a few years, I was also not able to have access to healthcare. Traveling abroad, low-income and immigrant, was also off my list.

It’s been over five years since that moment, and I haven’t been able to change my legal status.

When I see comments on Facebook criticizing “young and smart” Dreamers for not being smart enough to fix their status, it enrages and disappoints me. There’s no pathway to permanent residency for DACA recipients or TPS recipients.


Postcards to our representatives, Culmore Junior Youth

The average age of a TPS holder is 43 years old. I’ve had TPS for so long, I didn’t think it made sense to change my “status” or more appropriate, “program,” to another uncertain program, DACA. Yet, I understand too well the struggles and fears of these young immigrants. If any of these young immigrants have been able to adjust their status it’s through complicated means:

  • U-visas, which means you have been the victim of abuse or a crime,
  • Employee-sponsored visa, which comes with the strain of offering product or ideas no other employee can, or
  • Marriage, which is a commitment that should be out of love, not out of fear

What can you do right now to help young immigrants?

  1. Get Informed – ask questions, follow the news, and connect with immigrant organizations
  2. Spread the Word – tell a friend, tell family, don’t stay quiet
  3. Meet the Demands – attend a protest, attend a rally, call and write congress
  4. Donate – these organizations run on volunteer power: National TPS Alliance, United We Dream, & NAKASEC
Tim Kaine at Speak Out for Dreamers

Introducing Tim Kaine at storytelling event, 12/04/2017, Photo: Alida Garcia

The hardest part on this list is meeting the demands. We all have busy schedules. It’s easy to hope. We do it all the time. Prayer, too, though meaningful, does not actively change the situation. I’ve been guilty of not meeting the demands, even though I’m personally affected. If meeting the demands is hard for you, and you are trying, I’m not going to lie. You and I are in a rough position, but the last thing we want is not to try.

If you, are bold and fearless, and meet the demands at every turn, continue. We need you.

What can you right now as you wrap up reading this article? If you haven’t, find your representative today. Next, share this article. If I have come away with one good thing about being an immigrant is that I understand the political system more and more every day.

If a businessman made it to the White House, what’s not to say you, dearest reader, can make it to the White House? Help an immigrant today and help the future.


Claudia Rojas is poeta. She’s also a TPS (Temporary Protected Status) holder. TPS protects individuals fleeing natural disaster and war on a temporary basis. The program has been extended for many years; no permanent solution has ever been presented. Currently, the countries of Haiti, Nicaragua, and Sudan have lost their TPS designation. El Salvador, Claudia’s country of origin, has 200,000 TPS holders whose lives are at risk should Congress or America fail us. Call your member of Congress today through the FWD.us tool or find your representative’s info online. We cannot delay.

1,000 miles: step 85

In  my last update, I expressed several frustrations with being a 20-something year old. Those frustrations are still relevant, but there’s been a few changes and experiences since. Read on to find out.

Two Sylvias Press Online Poetry Retreat

The online poetry retreat, normally a $279 experience, was offered to me through a scholarship. Just in time before the retreat started, I received a journal and book from Two Sylvias Press and was invited to a Facebook group. The retreat began early in October. For the following four weeks, I received writing prompts and motivational quotes in my inbox. I managed to keep up with the prompts. It was a productive season, which ended with my submitting two poems to the editors for critique.

New & Old Experiences

Sunset - blue -sky

Photo I took on a busy day, 11/21

In October, I helped judge a speech competition that was held at George Mason University. I judged something.

As I mentioned in earlier posts, Fall for the Book happens in October. Where were you? I attended my third Fall for the Book Festival because it’s tradition.

I also attended my first orchestra performance at the Kennedy Center and recommended the experience in my Simple Gems in the City of Washington, DC post. It’s a great chance to wear that fancy attire tucked in our closets.

Reading Poetry in Public Spaces

On October 21, I read a poem for a holy day, the bicentennial celebration of Baha’u’llah, the founder of the Baha’i faith. I made a recording of the poem “How To Live” for YouTube. Then, at a Sterling protest on November 21, I read two poems about being an immigrant. This was in front of Representative Barbara Comstock’s office.

Though these experiences aren’t the same as open mics, I find them thrilling. What’s a poem if not breathed into the public? If you are interested in my poetry, The Bookends Review published one of my forms poem, a sestina. Read the poem now.

Public Resistance for Immigration Reform

As I said to a crowd of protesters in Sterling, I feel most comfortable with poetry. It hasn’t been easy, but I’ve forced myself into protests. I was even interviewed for a ThinkProgress article and provided Mason Dreamers with input about the TPS situation. Public resistance means an active engagement with my community; it makes me feel empowered. Many people still don’t know about TPS. Educating people online is difficult–there are short attention spans and complicated lives.

DC protest TPS

I help hold that banner shortly after taking this picture on 10/23 #SaveTPS

If you follow me through Twitter or Instagram, you’ll find that these days, immigration doesn’t leave my mind. I have started a countdown for the days left until the Department of Homeland Security makes a decision about El Salvador’s TPS designation. By chance, this March 2018 deadline also marks the point when DACA (Deferred Action for Early Childhood Arrivals) ends for thousands of youth. Times are rough.

I’m A Policy Intern

This month, I started an internship as policy intern with FWD.us. It was an unexpected turn of events, but it’s the space I need to be in right now. It’s a space that makes sense with the issues that make my heart heavy.

FWD.us organized a fly-in for about 100 DACAmented youth and businesses who employ these youth, so they could meet with members of Congress. I was part of that effort!

Being me at this moment / brown/ immigrant / woman isn’t easy, but I’m taking step after step anyway.


Claudia Rojas is poeta. She’s also a TPS (Temporary Protected Status) holder. TPS protects individuals fleeing natural disaster and war on a temporary basis. The program has been extended for many years; no permanent solution has ever been presented. Currently, the countries of Haiti, Nicaragua, and Sudan have lost their TPS designation. El Salvador, Claudia’s country of origin, has 200,000 TPS holders whose lives are at risk should Congress or America fail us. Call your member of Congress today through the FWD.us tool or find your representative’s info online. We cannot delay.

Top 13 Scary Moments: Claudiapoet’s Edition

In the spirit of Halloween, I want to share some moments that have scared me in different degrees, but scared me for sure. Are they all spooky? You have to read on and find out! Go on, see whether any make you scream or scram.

Some of these moments are small fears–you may even say silly. Other moments have roots I cannot begin to tell you.


13. The Storm and Thunder 

The way the trees toss and turn outside my window scare me. Thunder has such a loud boom that I find hard to ignore. My least favorite time out in the roads is during the slightest clap of thunder.

12. Alarms 

Any sudden or new beeping sound to me makes me jump a little. Alarms, fire alarms or sirens, make me uneasy. I’m just not a big fan of loud noises.

11. Being Late 

Whether it’s a job, a class, or an event, I like showing up when I say I’ll be there. I’m habitually on time to things. I leave up to half an hour to an hour early when I’m going somewhere new. If I’m late somewhere, I imagine people looking at the clock and frowning or scowling. All this drama build ups in my head.

10. Rejection Letters

Submitting poems to journals and magazines is easy. Hearing back from them is not; it’s scary because sometimes it doesn’t happen. Whenever I hear back from a submission, if the subject line or opening line lacks a “congratulations,” my heart sinks.

9. Dialing Strangers, Especially Representatives 

The act itself is not scary, but there’s still times where I have to pep talk myself into making a call, or when I have to write out my message before I can speak it. Maybe the digital age has spoiled me. Maybe it’s one of the downers of being an introvert. Maybe it’s being in a woman of color body. 

I wrote a poem about one of these scary calls. It was to ask my congressman about Syria and its raped women. I stifled tears throughout the whole ordeal, which was particularly hard as the staffer explained there wasn’t anything to be done. 

If you, reader, don’t have this fear, I encourage you to make a call to support and demand action for the Dream Act–it’s a quick call, actually. This matters to me not because I am a DACA recipient, but because I know their pains and fears.

8. Encounters with Many-legged Insects 

Enough said. I don’t want them near. Yes, I know caterpillars grow up to be butterflies. 

7. Lock-downs with Middle Schoolers

When I worked in a middle school classroom as a tutor, there would be times when a crime had happened near enough the school to put the school on lockdown. This often meant that the classroom had to go quiet, which isn’t easy in a roomful of squirmy bodies. The tension of the moment was something similar to that Halloween movie where you’re screaming at the girl, “don’t go in there!”

The children made it, but I know that some days, some school does lose a child–to gun violence or to bullying.

6. Transferring to a 4 Year College 

It was actually the commute that terrified me. And then the financial expenses. I figured George Mason University would be my last stop in my journey to earn a college degree. I figured I wouldn’t graduate… but I did in May 2017.

5. Car Rides with Speedy Drivers 

Will we survive? Is there a police behind us? Hey, are you seeing that stop sign? Slow down. I want to live.

4. Post-Election Day 2016

I had gone to bed late, with each hour, hoping the votes coming in would change direction. I couldn’t believe that a man with recorded evidence of gross “locker talk” was winning the election. I was scared of the future. I was scared for the future.

At the time, I was a classroom tutor, and I couldn’t imagine going into work. The students had spent months commenting on the racist remarks of the candidate-now-turned-president. It was a horror story.

I didn’t have work that day. I had school, which was just as bad because in most classrooms, I’m the Hispanic or the Latina. Post-Election Day I was the.crying. Latina. 

3. Car Accident, February 2017

I learned that even cautious drivers like myself can’t avoid car accidents. I was hit head-on by a driver who miscalculated or was plain reckless when she made a left turn, wanting to enter the road in the opposing direction of traffic.

The scary part was that I didn’t see her car; I felt the car slam against my car before seeing anything or anybody. The other scary part was the quiet in the car. In TV images of car crashes, there’s always screaming. I turned around and my mother, who was my passenger that day, wasn’t screaming–but she was alive.

2. My Mother Takes a Trip to El Salvador

In the summer of 2015, my mother made an emergency trip to El Salvador. TPS beneficiaries have to file an advance parole application to make visits outside the U.S. This was my mother’s first trip. We both had fears that something would go wrong, that she wouldn’t be allowed back into the U.S. For the few days she was away, I worried about her return trip. At that time, I was a full-grown 20 year old woman going on to 21 years, and all I kept thinking was Come home, mamí.

And she did! It only took some procedural hours of questioning at the airport.

1. The Right Now 

In case you don’t know, TPS (Temporary Protected Status) for Nicaragua and Honduras is set to expire January 2018. For El Salvador, that’s March 2018. Homeland Security is due to make a decision about the future of Central Americans and Haitians into November, and November starts tomorrow.

Simple Gems in the City of Washington, DC

Living in Northern Virginia, I have a great view of the city. Washington, DC is a metro ride or car ride away. There are no-effort and wallet-free options for the city, some hidden and some in plain sight. Here are some day trip ideas for the next time you head to the nation’s capital.

City Views

FullSizeRender (4)

Adams Morgan shops

A productive stroll in the city involves more than dining or shopping. It means going into a bookstore, sitting at a bench when you manage to find one, and being open to discovery.

Museums are a must, and there are so many to choose that you may be missing on some gems like the National Building Museum or the colorburst, the Blind Rhino. You can spend hours in one museum alone. Some really great sights, murals and sculptures, you will find find right in front of your nose. Be on the lookout.


You’ve seen these on social media posts, especially Instagram. Why not see them yourself? Some neighborhoods to try are U St, Adams Morgan, and NoMa, which have blocks full of murals and are metro accessible. It’s easy to miss a mural at night, so daylight is the way to go.

DC Mural

U St mural at dusk

In daylight, some murals you can’t miss–they’ll take up an entire wall as you pass the sidewalk and other artwork will be hiding down alleys. Stay alert.

You’ll notice artists using the wall medium to their advantage: to wow and to celebrate the city. Recent additions are part of MuralsDC Project started in 2007, an effort to make art of graffiti around the city.

While you will stumble upon murals unintentionally, here is a map of DC murals.


Many tourists know to take pictures of the sculpture of Presidents Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln. These are great but DC has much more to offer.

Find PandaMania sculptures throughout DC! The sculptures are a long past 2004 art project with many sculptures still in perfect condition, all scattered around DC and Northern Virginia.

Find a sculpture of Albert Einstein on 2100 Constitution Ave NW or sitting and pensive George Mason in East Potomac Park or the Bartholdi fountain inside the Botanic Gardens, named after the artist who also happens to be the artist behind the Statue of Liberty.

Interested in other overlooked sculptures? There’s more, all small surprises around the city.

Cozy spaces

Terrace View

John F. Kennedy terrace view

Visit the John F. Kennedy Center. Watch no-ticket-needed music and dance performances at the Millennium Stage. Upcoming events include Rocky Horror dance lessons from the Joy of Motion Dance Center on Halloween and a Thanksgiving Day Swing Dance Party on November 23. While there, head to the Tour Desk for a free tour. Handy fact: there’s also a free shuttle that departs from Foggy Bottom.

Attend a poetry event hosted by Split This Rock. Stop by on the 1st and 3rd Wednesday of each month for a no-cost writing workshopStop by monthly poetry open mics: the next one in DC is on November 19 and in Virginia on November 12. Split This Rock hosts open mics on the regular with $5 tickets. Stay updated via Split This Rock’s Facebook page.

In the mood to treat yourself? CityCenter, with over 30 shops, is the place for you. At the plaza, sit for awhile and enjoy the view. Notice the art installations change by the season: beach balls in the summer, now leaves hang from Palmer Alley. The CityCenter plaza is a family-friendly location.

Choose these city delights for a low-cost and relaxing day, but know there’s still more to discover. 



Questions? Comments? Let me know. Find me on Instagram, @Claudiapoet.

Claudia Poet’s Ideas for Random Acts of Poetry

October is a fairly decent month: the calm before the winter freeze, the color before the bare landscape. It is host to Northern Virginia’s Fall for the Book literary festival and to Random Acts of Poetry Day.

Random Acts of Poetry (RAP) falls on October 4 this year.

Legend has it that RAP Day arose in the early 80s, following a Canadian writer’s scribbles on a restaurant mat. That writer was Anne Herbert.  In the U.S., the writer Dylan Barmmer may have woken up Americans from their slumber. Whatever the origins, RAP Day is a holiday we have all much been waiting to discover.

On this day, the key thing is to commit to surprise people with poetry. (Read a beginner’s guide to poetry here.)

RAP-French-Pin-Poetry.pngFollowing are unexpected spots and ways to find a poem:

1. Library Book
Have you ever found an abandoned bookmark in a book and felt a little wave of discovery? Make that happen for someone else. Write a line from a poem on a sticky note or bookmark, pick a page in a library book, and be done.

Estimated Discovery Point: unknown, it could take years for the book to be opened
TIP: pick a New Arrivals/Hot Pick book for a faster discovery rate

2. Bathroom Stall
Leave a poem on a bathroom stall, where a stranger won’t have much of a choice but to read it! Be bold, make it a long poem.

Estimated Discovery Point: within hours.
TIP: Print out or write on colorful paper.

3. Bus or Metro Newspaper
Write fortune-cookie size poems and leave them inside newspapers. Imagine the surprise on strangers’ faces when they realize the day’s news has a poem.

Estimated Discovery Point: within hours.
TIP: use tape so that the poem doesn’t get lost.

4. Hashtag Poem
Ever wonder if people are reading your hashtags? Chances are they at least sneaking a glance. Surprise them with #onelonghashtagpoem.

Estimated Discovery Point: within minutes of post.
TIP: choose a mundane photo. Use #Raopoetryday or #RAPDay2017

5. Balloon
Write “POETRY” in big letters on a balloon, leaving room for a short poem. Release it into the air. Repeat.

Estimated Discovery Point: unlikely.
TIP: take a picture. Throw a party.

Want more ideas? Check out TS Poetry’s idea booklet.

Questions? Thoughts? Send me a poem? Follow me on Instagram, @Claudiapoet or Twitter, @Claudiadocumented

1,000 miles: step 84

This week I’ve been thinking about being a 20-something.

I’m out of college, and I’m going into October pretty much unemployed, by choice. Don’t get me wrong, I need a job. I also need a career.

I decided that long-term data entry was a job, not a path to a career in writing or editing. It wasn’t an easy choice. The office wasn’t a hostile place. I had a full-time schedule. I could imagine myself staying there, which was part of the problem.

I have to take risks. I strongly believe in my dreams– no one’s going to make them happen but me.

My professors always said, “you can do so much with an English degree.” I haven’t changed my mind about the English degree. I have a valuable degree, but it’s one whose worth has to be proven. All throughout college, I knew that finding a job in my field would be tough. I knew that much.

I have to be honest. I didn’t imagine that the job search would be this hard, that I’ll be on job application #50 within the next week or so.

The 20s is a hard stage.

I’ve always been so ambitious, and that’s not enough. Grit is as necessary. A strong support system is as necessary. I’ve been plagued with more self-doubt than usual. Even though I know not to measure myself by the accomplishments of other people my age, I still look at close friends with full-time jobs and families.

I look at people with English or Communications degrees AND a job. And I wonder when is my life starting?

My adult, out-of-school life has started. It’s one of struggle, and I’m not a stranger to that. In 2012, when I learned I wouldn’t graduate within 4 years from college, I accepted that my life’ has a different rhythm.

These days, it’s back to sending freelance proposals to clients, re-writing cover letters, and getting excited for that one interview.

It’s going beyond writing a to-do list that isn’t related to essays, projects, or grades. It’s checking off my to-do list because I hold myself accountable. It’s…

  • Visit the National Harbor [Done!]
  • Write a collaborative poem [Done!]
  • Don’t panic when you get a flat tire [Done!]
  • Write this blog post [  ]

It’s volunteering with children, but knowing full well that I want a dog in my future. It’s feeling old.

These days, it’s remembering the 20s is young.