Sunday, May 26, 2013

Living in Magic

There exists a profound duality to living with a degree of pain. Your days continue, life goes on, the sun rises each morning, classes continue and homework is still due. People smile and wave, and your feet seem to somehow carry you to the next place...and the next. You find yourself smiling back, thanking the bag boy, asking the old woman if she needs help, and putting on makeup again. But inside, deep within the caverns of your soul, you ache. Your breaking heart gasps and tears at the thick walls of your will, and you silence its screams as you wave back to the girl selling peaches.

On the outside, in the world of expressions and smiles and words shared but not really heard, you're doing well. Busyness holds you in an embrace of security you can't seem to hold tight enough. Responsibilities surround you in a comforting amnesia. You cling to meetings, deadlines and obligations as if your life depends on it, and really, your sanity does.

Because inside, hiding below the surface where the world can't see, a numbness lurks that threatens your stability. The monster beneath the bed, the elephant in the room, the ghost in the hallway. A devastating ache that eats at your stomach, tears at your heart, and clouds your eyes with tears when you least expect it. But no-one can see it and the sun still shines on obliviously. Happily unaware of the battle of sanity raging behind your eyes.

So you continue on and look for the beautiful, subtle details in life that hide in the corners waiting for you to find them. It's a strategic game of magical hide and seek. Hide from the pain by seeking the beauty, the details that make your heart remember warmth and light, the smell of the sea that fills your lungs with life and peace and reassurance. It's a self-fulfilling prophesy; force yourself to focus on the tiny beautiful details in life in order to claw your way back to a reality where life itself is again one vast, enveloping, beautiful moment.

"...All of these things (and more) make up the magic of every ordinary day and if we are able to live in this magic, to feel and to dwell in it, we will find ourselves living with magic every day. There are white spaces in life, the spaces in between the written lines, the cracks in which the sunshine filters into. Some of us swim in the overflowing of the wine glass of life, we stand and blink our eyes in the sunlight reaching unseen places, we know where to find the white spaces, we live in magic." - C. JoyBell C.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

No Response

"She was extending a hand that I didn't know how to take, so I broke its fingers with my silence." -Jonathan Safran Foer

"'I don't want to lose you.' His voice almost a whisper. Seeing his haggard expression, she took his hand and squeezed it, then reluctantly let it go. She could feel the tears again, and she fought them back. 'But you don't want to keep me, either, do you?' To that, he had no response."

Sunday, May 19, 2013


I made cilantro-curry shrimp stir-fry, breaded cod, and fresh green beans tonight. Dessert is going to be cottage cheese with juicy pears I bought at the farmer's market this morning.

I feel like such an adult. 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

With all your might

Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep, really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell. And when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.
-Ernest Hemingway

Monday, May 13, 2013


I've spent nine months working on this Mexico research project. It's been my life; I've fallen asleep with multiple open books scattered around me, I've cried with undocumented migrants deep in Jalisco, I've drunk tequila with nonagenarians who still remember the Cristero War, I've spend countless hours drafting this article and dozens of weekends with my equipo arguing about public health theory we're incorporating. I'm staying a 5th year because of this project. And now, I sit here in front of my computer screen, deadlines looming, responsibility overwhelming...and I don't care. I just don't care.

I look at the words before me. Each word significant, every sentence has been debated, polished, scrutinized and agreed upon...but to me they seem foreign. Detached. I read the words, but my eyes pass apathetically over the words. I don't care.

Not in a rebellious, irresponsible way. It's not negligence, it's numbness. I desperately want to care. I want to return to a state of excitement, curiosity, passion, eagerness and sentience. But I'm numb. Interest is exhausting. Conversations are draining, leaving me weary and introverted. Passion sounds terrifying.

I don't have time for this. I need to care. I desperately, desperately need to care. But the more I try to force myself to participate, drag myself to meetings and class, make myself focus, the more I just want to curl into a ball of silence and warmth. I just want to sit beneath a tall, apathetic tree and silently watch the world whirl by. My eyes are dry; I have no tears left to cry until I'm drowning in them. 

Monday, May 6, 2013

You fine

It's just past 4am and I'm finally closing my laptop and putting the countless pages of notes back into my massive notebook. Tonight was hard. Overwhelming. Emotional. I'm angry about things I can't fix, frustrated over time I can't get back, aching for hugs I can't have, lonely for company I can't share, scrambling for words I can't find and struggling with a general feeling of defeat. And then, my intuitive, dear friend in Mexico sent me a short, simple message that picked my heart off the ground and helped me breathe. Gracias.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Johnny and Refugees

Sunshine streams through the window as I listen to Johnny Cash and apply for a job promotion. I'm rocking three jobs right now, but the promotion would mean I could trim that down to two next year. Fingers crossed, guys...the extra time and extra dinero would be a beautiful thing. 

Had an emotional morning with my refugees today. Goodbyes are always hard and while I know from day one that I only have a short time with them, I can never keep my heart out of my work. I've grown to love my group of 25 Iraqis and will miss them dearly. The past 8 weeks flew by too fast and our goodbyes turned a bit tearful as we hugged goodbye. I am *so* proud of them, so excited for them as they struggle to start their new lives...but oh, I'm going to miss them. We've shared coffee, laughs, tears, and political comparisons for two months and I consider them my friends.  In two weeks I'll get another group and the 8 weeks will start all over again. New faces, new starts, new relationships...but I'm going to miss these guys. How do teachers do this? 

Thursday, May 2, 2013


Part of picking yourself up by the bootstraps involves acquiring new goals and I have two: gain weight and get abs of steel by the end of the quarter. They might be completely contradictory, but there they are. Exercise and eat carbs. Judge away. 

A few days ago I discovered the Summer Abs 7-Day Challenge and I've been doubling up on it, doing each workout twice per day (hey, can't hurt, right?). HA! Hurts like crazy. I'm so sore I double over when I laugh. I need a little sign that says, "don't say anything funny...I'm recovering from intense V-ups". There are little videos with uber-fit people demonstrating the various crunches, along with these super cheesy encouragements. "There you go! Summer's right around the corner! Feeeeeel the burn." 

I'm feeling it. I'm also pretending like I can already see the faint outline of a six-pack. 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

I wrote for a long time tonight. Scrawling raw, dark words on a blank page, my heart and hands wrote things my head is still trying to grasp. Words poured themselves onto the page with an intensity, passion and grief that surprised me and, reading over it, I feel a mixture of devastation and relief.

There is hill on campus covered in clover and that hums with the quiet whir of bees' wings. I spent over an hour on that hill today listening to the bees, feeling the cool grass between my toes as the sun brought freckles to my shoulders. Eyes closed, I clutched my knees and tried to feel. Connect. Be. Feel the ground beneath me, feel the faint breeze, feel the whirring of the bees, feel the warmth of the sunshine, feel the energy of the countless students passing all around me. I wanted to rise out of myself and dive deep within the earth and feel the dirt, feel the roots growing, feel the rumble of thousands of feet, feel the groaning of earth's bones as she struggles to hold us all. I wanted to rest my hands on the nearby tree and feel the roughness, evaporate inside it and feel the coursing heartbeat of the stately rings, feel the roots clenching the dark earth, feel the water rising through the trunk, feel the leaves stretching towards the sun. I wanted to feel.

Instead, my words came pouring out tonight angry, grief-stricken, and desperate. Every day is a deep, constant struggle with pervasive apathy. I smile at the people I pass and make small talk with the kids in class, because that's what I do. I can pretend. It's my talent I despise the most, yet my most tried-and-true defense. Ironic.

"Girls like us, when we love, it takes everything we have."  -Sarah Addison Allen