Glitter Glue Heart

If you haven’t already, you should check out the new page I added to the poetry section: pastiches. And scroll down until you find the poem called “Glitter Glue Heart.” I just wanted to talk a little bit about this poem because I wholeheartedly enjoyed writing it and it makes me really happy whenever I go back and read it. It was inspired by Taylor Mali’s “Silver-Lined Heart.” At the end of the poem, Mali urges the audience to “put your goddamn pen to paper and tell me what you’re for!”

So I did exactly that in my poem. And you know something? Once I did that, once I essentially made a list of things that make me happy, I felt so incredibly good. More than good. I felt… liberated, somehow. Relaxed. Peaceful. And alive. I felt like everything was going to be just fine, and I felt like life truly is a beautiful thing. And every time I read it, I feel the same way.

To focus only on what is good seems like a pretty deceiving way to live life. But I think it’s equally deceiving to live a life focused only on what is bad. And unfortunately, that’s what seems to happen to a lot of us. We’re caught up in our own stressful lives – stress from school, work, relationships – and then we get exposed to so much negativity in the media. I know there’s a lot that’s not right in the world. But I think it’s okay to realize that there’s a lot that is right, too. And just because someone else somewhere else might not be happy doesn’t mean we need to feel guilty for being happy.

One of my professors shared this with our class last semester: www.goodnewsnetwork.org

It’s basically a website dedicated to sharing good news. I wouldn’t use it as my primary source to know what’s going on in the world, but it’s a nice addition to whatever news you may already be following. It covers topics like science, business, sports, health, and world news. It has a lot of interesting and uplifting information – and it’s a nice reminder that there’s a lot of good things happening out there.

Now, I encourage you – what are you for? What makes you live? In Taylor Mali’s words, “Tell me what inspires you, what fulfills and fires you, put your goddamn pen to paper and tell me what you’re for!”

The Poetry in Money

I’m sitting in the business school at my university as I write. This past semester was my first semester being part of the business school, my first semester taking business classes. People kept asking me if I liked it. Do you like your classes? Do you like the B-school?

And I felt myself struggling to say yes. I really wanted to, but for some reason I didn’t like it as much as I thought I would.

Why?

I wasn’t sure before, but I think I know now. I think for a long time, I’ve typecast myself. I’ve told myself that I love creative writing, and therefore I am a certain type of person. And that type of person doesn’t belong in a business school. It sounds absurd, and honestly, it is. But it’s what I was doing subconsciously.

Last year I took an English class and didn’t like it as much as I thought I would. But my brain said, “You like English. So you should like the class.”

I’m realizing now how silly that was, and I’m also realizing that I don’t have to like every aspect of things I like, if that makes sense. I can like business without liking all the classes in the business school, and I can like English without liking all the English classes I take, and I can like reading without liking every book I read.

Most importantly, I’ve realized that choosing to major in business does not make me a certain type of person. It does not mean I have to follow a certain path. It does not mean I’m greedy or materialistic. And it doesn’t mean I can’t love to write poetry.

It means I’m learning things that are useful, things I want to know, things that will help me understand the world around me better. And yeah, hopefully I can get a job out of that. But hopefully I can also live a life that makes me happy and that makes me feel good about what I’m doing.

Robert Graves said, “There’s no money in poetry, but then there’s no poetry in money, either.”

But I think there is poetry in money – if you want it to be there.

New Poetry!

This isn’t a real post per se, but I promise there’s some good stuff for you to read. 🙂 I spent a good chunk of time digging out and sorting practically all of the poems I’ve ever written. I’ve uploaded them and categorized them under the poetry tab. You’ll notice that the majority of them rhyme, but I’m also beginning to experiment with free verse. I think rhyming will always be my signature style though. Check them out, enjoy, and please comment if you like what you read!

An Adventure in Morocco

I apologize for the immense delay in posting, but winter semester of college was pretty hectic, and not long afterwards, I embarked on an international journey.

For three weeks in May, I had the amazing opportunity to volunteer at a nursery school in Rabat, Morocco with three of my closest friends. It was an experience I’ll never forget – for more reasons than one. Of course walking into a room and having about forty little kids get super excited to see us every single day was extremely rewarding, but so was immersing ourselves in the culture and learning how to make Moroccan mint tea, planning weekend trips to other cities and having to find the train station and book hotels all on our own, and figuring out how to communicate with people without being able to speak Dareeja (Moroccan Arabic). Even battling a fierce cockroach to the death was rewarding in its own way (albeit terrifying).

Five days a week we spent at the nursery school in Rabat. We taught a little bit of English (ABCs, shapes, numbers) and games like “Duck, Duck, Goose” and musical chairs. We also created activities like coloring and connect-the-dots worksheets. For me, the highlight of the trip was definitely the kids. Each kid had his/her own unique personality, and they all loved the attention we were able to give them. We’d just be sitting there and suddenly kids would climb into our laps or want high fives or give us kisses.

Suhail was one of the most enthusiastic and energetic kids there!

Suhail was one of the most enthusiastic and energetic kids there!

Yusuf, one of the little kids at the nursery, would not let go of me!

Yusuf, one of the little kids at the nursery, would not let go of me!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the weekends, we took the train to other cities in Morocco. We traveled to Fez, Marrakesh, and Casablanca. While the cities themselves were beautiful and exciting to visit, I honestly just loved the notion of grabbing our backpacks and hopping on a train to somewhere. I think that was when we felt most independent and truly adventurous. And some of our best (and funniest) memories were created on the train.

The other really nice thing about our trip was that we lived with host families during our stay in Rabat. Some aspects were challenging (my host mother did not speak any English), but this meant I had a chance to practice using the basic Arabic that I knew. Our host families also lived within the walls of the medina, or the old city, which is basically a maze of narrow streets crammed with shops and markets, called souks. At first the prospect of finding our way through this veritable labyrinth was quite daunting, but soon we knew exactly how to get back to our homes and felt comfortable exploring on our own. Living in the medina itself really added to our experience.

A street in the medina in Fez. The Rabat medina was very similar, but not as hectic.

A street in the medina in Fez. Every city has its own medina.

Living with host families also meant home-cooked meals. And my host mother was an amazing cook!

My host mother's fabulous couscous, the traditional Moroccan dish that is eaten on Fridays.

My host mother’s fabulous couscous, the traditional Moroccan dish that is eaten on Fridays.

After all of the adventures we had in Morocco, from hopping on the train to unfamiliar cities to learning how to communicate to managing forty little kids at the nursery school, the biggest takeaway for me is now being able to say this:

“I’ll figure it out.”

Morocco was a whirlwind of new experiences, all of which we had to navigate ourselves. For me – someone who likes having things planned and organized – this trip was the best thing that could have happened. I realized that not knowing where you’re going all the time and having to figure stuff out on the way isn’t so bad. In fact, it can be a lot of fun, especially when you’re with friends. The best part is that now I feel a lot more comfortable figuring things out for myself as well, whatever they may be.

So here’s to the wonderful unplanned adventures the future holds, and here’s to figuring them all out!

Book Review: Dancer, Daughter, Traitor, Spy

www.goodreads.com

The premise of this book is great. Marina, a teenage ballerina, and her father are forced to flee the Soviet Union in the 80s, shortly after Brezhnev’s death. Marina’s mother, who is also a famous ballerina, has been taken away by the Soviet government, and the story is about Marina’s life in New York. The possibility of being caught by the KGB looms over her. She wants to continue her dancing at Juilliard, but she doesn’t know who to trust. What if her dance partner is a spy?

The elements of espionage, action, and danger are what made me pick up the book. It seemed so exciting! It was also cool that it was set during the Cold War. Unfortunately, it fell short of my expectations.

The main problem with the book is that not much happened. I was halfway through and it still felt like the author was setting up the story. Thing is, the book is only about 280 pages, so there isn’t enough time or space to spend so long on exposition. As a result, even though it’s written pretty well, the story doesn’t really go anywhere. There isn’t any fast-paced action; it’s mostly Marina’s thoughts and dialogue about what could happen.

Marina and her mother also have a “sixth sense” which isn’t really explained well or developed. It was confusing to read at times because I wasn’t sure if something was actually happening or if it was just a vision. The idea of having visions also didn’t sit well with me. I don’t know if the author was going for magical realism here, but being able to see the past or the future seemed jarring in a book that otherwise adhered so much to reality.

As for the good stuff? Well, I loved the details about Russian culture woven into the story, and I also loved the references to music. Most of the chapters were song titles or had something to do with music, and I liked how Marina used these songs to tell her own story. As I mentioned before, the story is also written pretty well (the problem was with plot, not writing).

Overall though, I was disappointed with the book. It just wasn’t what I was looking for. I didn’t care enough about the characters to get into it as much as I wanted to. It seems that the author had some excellent ideas, but they weren’t executed as well as they could have been. This book probably wouldn’t be at the top of my list of recommended titles, but I do realize that it is the author’s first novel. I would definitely be interested to know what she writes about next.