“New Year’s” Resolutions

So what if it isn’t the new year, I can promise things to myself if I want to.

1) Spend less time on social media
2) Spend more time on well-being
3) Eat more veggies
4) Step away from meat
5) See a new country. I’ve got my eyes set on India and Thailand right now, both of which are pretty easy to get to from China 😀
6) Give more
7) Take less

That’s actually a pretty ambitious list. Hrm…

“New Year’s” Resolutions

Poem: Facebook

Obsession

Like, comment, like, share,

subscribe, message, like, like, upload

The idle habit slowly begins to consume my life

I scroll until my thumb cramps,

until my pinky aches from supporting my phone.

I scroll until

my wrist is in pain, until

my fore & middle fingers are numb.

minutes, hours, days pass.

I scroll on.

See repeated information.

I can’t sleep so I grab my phone.

Gotta check facebook.

Gotta check for validation.

Gotta confirm that everyone’s life is better than mine.

The envy it breeds is unbearable, but I’m hooked.

My picture got 49 likes, I’m artsy.

My status started a discussion, I’m an intellectual.

Sandra is in Greece? I hate her.

Stephanie’s picture got 53 likes, I must not be as good as her.

Constantly, constantly measuring myself

against the fake bits of others’ lives.

The shiny, polished status updates.

I scroll on.

I scroll to the exclusions of reading a book.

I scroll to the exclusion of completing my homework.

I scroll so often and for so long the only time I can write this poem is @ 2AM

when my lover, Facebook,

has gone to sleep for the night.

And still, as the ink of my strange multipurpose pen-tool

fills the lined paper between my simple black journal,

the urge remains.

It’s as if, if I scroll far

enough I can erase the memory of anything bad

or, fast forward to a brighter future.

One where we again talk face-to-face

Where we care for our neighbors more than we fear them

Where words are the solution, not guns.

But honestly, at this rate, in light of Crimea, Israel-Palestine,

black-on-black crime,

(rape and homophobia)

at this rate, I’ll be scrolling forever.

Poem: Facebook

Poem: The Secret of the Wind

In the whispers of yesterday

I hear you calling my name

I hear the sound and turn away

Then turn and walk towards today

My name fades fades fades

The winds at my back

leaves rustle

my hair dances

my name fades fades fades

the wind disturbs the sound

carries it tosses it warps it muffles it

the words in the wind’s path wind up withered

away from my ear, they disappear.

the past, then, cannot haunt me.

The wind has carried it away

So I shall walk into today, everyday

with the wind as my faithful bodyguard

Obscuring the things I don’t need to hear

Bullying the sounds out of existence

Poem: The Secret of the Wind

I understand the obesity epidemic.

Or at least I think I’m beginning to. With all the media attention healthy eating gets, I’m willing to bet a good portion of America knows what healthy eating looks like. While educational efforts need to be continued, I think the roots of the epidemic stem beyond the classroom or the nightly news. Home environment plays a huge role in daily habits.

I first started thinking about it a few days ago when I was hanging out with one of my best friends. We literally spent the entire day (12 PM until roughly 9PM) eating and snacking. My water intake dropped dramatically and I did no exercise beyond walking to the kitchen and back. I ate beyond the point of being full, but because I was with a friend, it didn’t matter. Part of it comes from most of my friends being larger than I am. I don’t want them to feel bad about what they eat so I match them plate for plate. The habit is quite dangerous. I’ve also run to resistance with other friends and with my family when I do make healthy choices. Suddenly I’m “too good” for what mother cooked if I choose to eat a salad instead (which is by no means true, I love mom’s cooking) or I’m “trying to impress somebody” when I go for a run. If I talk about vegetarianism, I’ve “come back from college with bourgeois ideas about food.”

I know my friends should accept my choices and even be happy for them, but it’s a lot easier to do what they’re doing than to resist. I have a feeling the same is true for others in the world. When their families are eating delicious calorie-laden pies and glorious mounds of sugar-topped pancakes, they don’t want to be the left-out kill-joy eating apples and bran muffins. I love vegetables, but I love the people around me more.

Grocery stores also present a huge problems. Produce and healthy snack options (especially in low-income neighborhoods) are cost-prohibitive. Produce, especially, in poverty-stricken areas is on average higher priced and lower quality. How can people expect to eat healthily if they can’t afford it? I live on a college kid budget, which means I shed a tear every time I purchase my veggies for the week. I try to fool myself into thinking I’m spending less by purchasing one orange or tomato at a time, over the course of the week. Let’s face it, a 45 cent pack of ramen (which is enough for a meal) is more enticing than a $2.50 meal made of healthy things.

Cost aside, healthy things are hard to find. I once walked into a supermarket just to scope my options. Once I left the produce isle, vegetarian options dwindled drastically. Even if I did find something vegetarian, it was something soaked in salt, drenched in syrup, and served with fries. No thank you. Any benefit from eating the vegetable probably disappeared by the second time it went through the boiling process. Still, people will eat these things because there are pictures of fruits and vegetables on the box. We’ve been trained to believe that as long as it’s a vegetable, it’s healthy. We’ve also been taught to eat low-sodium low-sugar diets. It seems we can’t have it both ways.

Because “readymade healthy” is so hard to find, preparing nutritious food is a bit cumbersome. Popping a pre-made lasagna in the oven will always be faster than making a healthy one from scratch, unless one is a fan of unwashed, uncut vegetables (but then, the healthiness of the meal is in question). Health takes time a dedication, but in a fast-paced world such as ours, no one has the time to give. We need quick, we need now, and if that means we don’t need health, then so be it.

Our obesity problem is not one of education. Food pyramids (or I guess they’re plates now) are pretty ubiquitous. People just lack the resources and support systems required to change their lives. Don’t get me wrong, with a little shift in priorities and some financial finagling a person can absolutely turn his or her life around despite the obstacles, but I have a feeling not many are ready to do that just yet. Healthy and diet and exercise are extrememly rewarding. When I’ve cleaned my diet, I feel amazing. The aches and pains go away and I feel lighter and more alert. As soon as I stop, a fog descends over my brain and maintaining attention becomes difficult. Health is obviously the better choice, but it’s a beast to maintain.

I understand the obesity epidemic.

Poem: “Dear America”

For those who don’t know: flying the flag upside down is an officially recognized symbol of distress. Read the poem with that in mind. For those who did: no need to call 911 or SWAT or anything, I just used the flag for symbolism this time.

I wrote this quite a long time ago, but I figure now’s a good time to post it because people are thinking about the Fourth of July and all. I don’t want to ruin anyone’s holiday, so I tried to wait a bit, but now’s as good a time as any to go ahead and post this.

Dear America

You don’t understand, aight?
I am a female-bodied black person

whose “biggest accomplishment”

is her graduation from high school

Forced into a system by society

without the fancy, expensive paper

you don’t listen to me.

I don’t exist.

America,

Land of the free, home of the brave

But I am not free. And I promise you it is NOT because of the word “nigger”

America,

my mother AND father were injured fighting for you

I see it in your their your eyes, hear it in their your words

      Daddy couldn’t lift his baby

and when he did she knew she caused him pain.

“What the hell is she thinking, going to school with all those white people?”

    Then there’s the PTSD.

The screams, the blows.

My kind is not fit to run this country.

My kind is not smart.

My mother and the bottle

America, why do you ignore me?

Why is is that when I turn on the tv, I don’t see anyone like me?

Why do I have to be afraid for my future,

with or without this stupid degree that’s supposed to document how smart some other people say I am.

That documents my ability to jump through hoops

They left me at daycare with a babysitter every morning at 6AM.

I knew Mrs. Carol, Miss Lori, the St. John’s staff better than I knew them.

Because they went to serve you.

Why is it that when I walk down the street,

you cross to the other side?

Why do you express surprise at my ability to use the English language?

How did you manage to convince me to mold myself into what you find acceptable?

And why do I have to convince myself that I should?

And why should I?

And And And

American, I appreciate what you’re doing for your citizens, but don’t forget me next time.

 

Poem: “Dear America”

Best Advice I’ve Ever Received & “To Do Nothing”

I realize I never finished my “labels” series. I feel as if I need to post this first, because it falls more in line with the purpose of this blog.

About 3 weeks ago,  I attended my younger sister’s high school graduation. As per usual, one of the speakers was the teacher of the year. He gave this brilliant, not-too-long speech about life. His speech was one of just two speeches I’ve heard in my entire life that truly impressed me. He gave three pieces of advice:

1) Know your purpose.

2) Pursue your purpose.

3) “And if it comes down to it, forget the money.”

Sure I’ve heard something like that before, but the message was never delivered so earnestly or clearly. Usually, when I hear those things, it’s from some person who makes hundreds of thousands of dollars (sometimes millions) each year. It’s usually from someone who came from a fortunate background and had no trouble pursuing what they loved because eating wasn’t a concern. It’s usually from someone who has some glamourous success story similar to some sort of disney fairy tale.

This story was different because it was real. He told us of his struggles. He told us of his sacrifices. Don’t get me wrong, his story is still one of success, otherwise he wouldn’t be teacher of the year. What makes his success different is that it is tangible. I could see the results of his efforts and his students experienced them first hand.

As for my purpose, well, I am still searching. I’ve had lots of ideas, made lots of observations that deeply affect me, yet so far, I haven’t found anything I’m willing to do for the rest of my life. Everything seems like minor hobbies. My greatest desire, right now, is to do nothing. I don’t mean that in an “I want to sit around and leech resources from my parents and society” way. I mean that more in an “I’m searching for a slower, more serene way of life” sort of way. I mean that in an “I don’t want to cultivate my mind in nontraditional ways at my own pace” sort of way. I seek simplicity and solitude. I want to reduce my life and minimize the stress. I want to shed everything society has imposed on me.

While it would be easy enough to drop everything and move to the Nepali countryside (arbitrary country choice), I’m tethered to this version of my life by expectation. I’m expected to get a degree, but in order to get that degree I’m supposed to go into debt with the government, and in order to pay off that debt I need a job that pays me enough for me to eat AND pay off the debt. In order to get a job that does that, I need to go to graduate school, and in order to go to graduate school I need to go further into debt. By the time I pay off all of the debt, half of my life will be over and I fear I won’t have had any meaningful experiences. I feel as if in this version of my life, there is no opportunity to grow organically because there is so much outside influence. I limit my exposure to television and the internet as much as possible, but I still need to go to these sources because they contain such valuable, pertinent information.

Eventually, I hope, I will achieve simplicity, but for now, I’ll just keep moving along.

 

Best Advice I’ve Ever Received & “To Do Nothing”