Archive for September, 2012

Two small moments.

September 28, 2012 6 comments

For the last hour, I’ve been thinking about two moments. They are from the beginning and the end of my trip to Cuba. To get to Havana, I flew on a charter flight from Miami. I was in a row of three seats. I sat near the window and two older gentlemen,  with big white beards and pony tails to match, dressed in t-shirts, shorts, and sandals, sat beside me. They intermittently spoke to each other in Spanish, but kept silent for the most part. Their energy felt so different than mine. I was exhausted, as I woke up at 3:30 AM to start my journey, and irritated because it seemed like my trip was going to be nothing like I wanted. These two men, however, seemed peaceful yet expectant. As our plane began to touch down, the gentleman directly next to me put his hand over his heart and sighed, “Ah, mi Habana.” In that moment, I realized I had no idea what to expect, and that I was about to experience something uniquely human and possibly beautiful.

On my return flight back to Miami, I was exhausted and irritated. Again. I hardly slept for two weeks. I kept catching two men on the plane staring at me, glancing knowingly towards each other. I was annoyed, and lack of sleep made me feel confrontational. After the plane landed, everyone started jamming into each other in the race to baggage claim. I heard the men saying to each other, “Si, la rubia,” and I could feel them pointing and staring. My jaw was clenched. As I entered the gate, one of the men said to me, “Do you remember? We sat next each other on the way to Havana.” They smiled, calm and expectant. Of course I remembered. My anger was embarrassing, but I felt at ease.

When those two moments connect, I think about how my own short-sighted tunnel vision is the only thing that could make miss something so small and so humbling.  I can’t help but think how each time we embark on something new, our ending and beginning often seem so cyclical.

Categories: Life Tags: , ,

You can’t teach a dumb dog new tricks.

September 25, 2012 4 comments

This morning, I received a cryptic/encouraging/Elvis Costello text message from Mr. Latimer:

“Rest up. 2morrow it’s welcome 2 the workin week. Good luck. x0”

Tomorrow, I start my new job. I am pretty pumped about this. I was offered a case management position at a supportive housing facility for residents with co-occurring disorders. This facility is also transitioning to the Sanctuary Model. Since trauma-informed care is my primary area of interest, and issues surrounding housing and homelessness have become increasingly important to me, I consider myself fortunate to have this opportunity. While I’m excited to get back to work, I’m a little nervous for all the regular reasons you get nervous before you start a new job; however, I also have a cold right now. My face feels like it’s filled with wet cement and coughing seems as natural as breathing. That’s not really how I want to come out the gate at my new job.  Yesterday, I still went for a run and also went to judo. My theory was that I could sweat out this cold. I can’t say my theory works as I put it into practice, but I do want to go to jiu jitsu and kata tonight. I conveyed my current health status and plan to my dad in a brief text message. He texted back:


Mr. Latimer knows me. I am not good at taking care of myself. Yes, I engage in physical activity and my diet’s fine. But as far as going to bed early and “taking it easy”? Well, I find that difficult. This is because I am a stubborn idiot. I don’t want to slow down for anything. It’s just no fun. I don’t want sit around all day and “rest up.” Logically, I know I should. I had a moment on Sunday where I was convinced I had a fever, and during my two hour judo practice last night, I thought I was either going to throw up or fall asleep while standing. Or both. But since I woke up feeling OK (proof that rest is crucial to preserve one’s physical health), the illogical/dominant part of my brain thinks it’s fine to go to my club for three hours tonight.  And this line of thinking, ladies and gentlemen, contributes in part to how I wound up with Shingles last fall–my supreme devotion to stubborn idiocy.

So will I go train tonight? I don’t know yet. But if I do go, please don’t tell my dad.


Haikuesday 09.25.12

September 25, 2012 3 comments

I will get to do

just what I want to do. Man–

can’t believe that’s real.

Categories: poetry Tags: , , , ,

Dear Judo…

September 19, 2012 2 comments

Dear Judo,

Though we are not seeing each other right now, I think of you everyday. I think about how great it will feel to get back on the mat full-time. I think about drilling techniques, especially my tai otoshi.  I think about going round after round of randori. I think about competing. Mostly, I think about everything you’ve given me–the invaluable lessons that stem from defeat and discouragement,  from the value of criticism, and from understanding perseverance.  However, my favorite lesson you taught me is that when we fall, we get right back up.

Judo, you’re a great teacher, and your best lessons apply after I step off the mat.



Categories: Judo Tags: , , ,

Haikuesday 09.18.12

September 18, 2012 Leave a comment

Could be the coffee,

but it seems today just got

so interesting.

Kitties, bunnies, and understanding.

September 17, 2012 4 comments

As I mentioned previously, I am unemployed right now. I occupy a good chunk of my day with job applications and cover letters; however, my time on Facebook and searching the internet for adorable videos of kitties making friend with bunnies has shot up 3000% percent. So has the time I spend thinking about myself. My day pulses with quaking thoughts such as:

“When will I get a job?”

“Will I get a job?”

“Why is the dumpster so far away from my trashcan?”

“Who is really going to know if I have oatmeal and wine for dinner?”

It may surprise you, but I do tire of myself and my situation. This evening, my friend, Kristin, reminded me of the bigger, better, and more complex world beyond my little West Philly apartment.

Kristin is one of my favorite people ever, taking precedence over the great leaders and philosophers of both ancient civilization and the Renaissance. We have known each other since before we were tall enough to ride roller coasters.  In the last year, Kristin fell in love with and married an amazing man. Her husband is a lot like Kristin–warm, loving, smart, and fun. They are both killer judokas. Kristin’s husband is a Muslim from Africa. Kristin is not. This hasn’t stopped them from loving and committing to each other. Furthermore, their two families engage in an open exchange of welcome and acceptance. Still, Kristin’s husband does come from a culture which is not often understood or accepted in the US. I have seen his posts on Facebook after the recent attack on the US Embassy in Libya, asking his friends to consider that most Muslims are peaceful people, and not to let the few define the many. This evening, Kristin posted this on Facebook:

When I was 10 I didnt understand war. Why people couldnt talk it out and try to have love in the world. (yay naive 10 year olds!)

17 years later, I find myself (luckily) married to a muslim man from the middle east – so i am faced with cultural differences daily…however our willingness to listen, really understand one another, love eachother for our differences, embrace and rejoice in one anothers beliefs, support and learn from our varied histories, and work together despite our differences for a stronger tomorrow together- is what makes me know that we will still be giggling together 20 years from now. 
It also makes me thankful for having parents who raised us with open hearts & minds – and makes me hope that with future generations, more and more acceptance will exist.

I guess my mentality from when i was 10 hasn’t changed that much. In a society so crazed and set upon hating one another for being different, I still think that all we need is a little love. (yay naivety!)

The thing is, I don’t think Kristin is naive. If she was naive, she would pretend that she and her husband are exactly the same–that her being raised in Christian family in the US is hardly different than growing up as a Muslim in Africa. She would ignore how it can be difficult for her husband to express his devotion to his religion and culture when the rest of the country is villainizing who share his background. But she doesn’t. She recognizes and seeks to understand her husband, his family, and his culture. Maybe the only way Kristin is naive is that she doesn’t know how wise she is.

So thank you, Kristin, for taking away my microscope and handing me a telescope. The world seems exciting when you think about how big it is, how small we are, and the chance that one tiny person can bump into someone else and something good can from it.


Haikuesday 09.11.12

September 11, 2012 4 comments


can be just as scary as

it is exciting.

Categories: poetry Tags: , ,