My Home

I’m sitting here in the quiet of the pace I’ve called home for the past 3 years and 7 months. The only other place I’ve lived besides my childhood home (I don’t really count the one year I lived in my college dorms). The home my husband and I have lived together for almost the first 3 years of our marriage. The home where I learned to live with so many people in ways that stretched me, but also brought me immense joy. The home where I became friends with the main housemate in ways that make me confident we will be friends long afterwards. The home husband and I got our first pet. The first time I could honestly say I was a resident of Boston, though this city has always been my home. The place where I’ve begun to figure out what makes a home for me not just tracking with my parents decisions. Where I threw parties, game nights, Thanksgivings, and picked out our Christmas tree. The home where I invited people over and could be the host. The place where I shared my life with others intentionally even when it was hard.

My little patch of Boston where I got to know people and serve them coffee with a smile, know the librarians, and memorized the regular bus route. I’m so glad in my own introverted, uncomfortable way I let myself root here. I know I’ll visit this place for awhile yet, but it will no longer be my home. I will rest in those memories when I think back on my life.

I will always be grateful when I heard God pushing me to move here even though it made no sense, but it has been a great blessing. So much community and life giving has grown out of being here. I’m so excited to be moving into a new space with my husband, but tonight I am thinking gratefully of all the memories and love I gained while living here. I love this home dearly, thank you for loving me so well in return.

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Currently and What I Gained from #NaPoWriMo

Life has been interesting these past few weeks, some good things and challenging things. What is really good is that I am so at peace. I have truly healed in ways I really needed to heal post charter school. I will never bad mouth the school, and I have much to be grateful from it, but I am so thankful working there is no longer a part of my life. I have greater hope and confidence and I really am grateful.

Plus this past month was such a great time for my writing life. It started by getting to attend The Muse and Marketplace, and continued as I wrote for NaPoWriMo and continued to do the harrowing work of submitting my writing to various publications, contests, and retreats. I did not get into any of the retreats. But I’m glad I tried.

I will continue to write. And I did write every single day just like I promised myself. One of the neatest things about doing NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month, like National Novel Writing Month in November, but for poets!) was how much it inspired other writing. I drafted quite a few essays and short stories during that time that I am also hoping to publish.

Basically, sitting down and choosing to write just a poem a day often resulted in much more writing and writing in totally different genres. Once the floodgates opened it all had to come out. I also got out more to various literary events (including House Slam at the Haley House!) and felt more connected to writers. I’m feeling very affirmed in my dream of being a Boston writer. I know I have a lot more work to do (and I must keep up writing EVERY DAY), but this month really proved to me I can make room every day to write as long as it’s a priority. And I really want it to be, because more than anything I love it.

No matter what rejections come. No matter if I’m the only person reading my work. No matter if there are a thousand better writers out there. The reason I write isn’t for fame, publication, or money (and those are all in short supply anyway), but because it is the way I communicate. It is what gives me life. It is what I love to do most in the world. So I write. Okay that’s enough serious writer thoughts for one day. Here’s what I’m currently up to:

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Currently…

Loving: my life. On a real note, like I said before last year was heard I fell into a major depression that was so heavy and invading every part of my life, I couldn’t even see it because I thought that was just how life was. I was so unhappy and surviving. I remember literally counting down to when my next break was

Reading: Lots of poetry, Land of the Living by Ashlee Haze, The Witch Doesn’t Burn in This One by Amanda Lovelace, and also some books on writing poetry as well as perusing lots of literary journals.

Listening: to whatever is playing on my Pandora. The repetitive Spotify playlists that loop in Starbucks, and as much Drake as my ears can handle.

Watching: Jane the Virgin Season 4, lots of Key and Peele clips, and the antics of my cat (just kidding he sleeps most of the time).

Thinking About: Everything! All the time, seriously I have so many thoughts going on, mostly I’ve been focused on my writing, my relationships, and my health.

Anticipating: my birthday mostly, the summer, and lots of cool things I can’t quite talk about yet.

Wishing: for good vibes and that my writer wish I made at the Muse and Marketplace actually comes true.

Making Me Happy: my life. Writing. Poetry. My friends. Key and Peele. The good stuff in life, you know. Also my job is pretty great all things considered.

Literary Citizenship

If you are at all involved in the world that writers, editors, and all word nerds live out a major portion of their lives then you have heard the term literary citizen. This is a person, typically a writer who engages in community with other writers, libraries, book stores, and all places that are devoted to supporting books and or writers.

I participate in that community every time I connect with someone who writes, for a lot of writers literary citizenship is played out online particularly on Twitter. Having recently joined Twitter I can attest it is the place to be as a writer (followed by my beloved instagram). This also happens when you’re part of a writer group, go to a poetry slam, network at a conference, read for a lit journal, or do anything to support your fellow writers, because lets be honest us writers need each other though we love our readers like nothing else (I mean who wouldn’t love being told, I read something you wrote and I enjoyed it, that stuff can leave me high for days). This is all to say that I am so grateful for the community of writers and the chance to be a literary citizen.

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Last weekend I was given the incredible opportunity to go to the 19th annual The Muse and the Marketplace. There is nothing like being with a bunch of people obsessed with the same nerdy things as you are (and if you’re not a nerd in any capacity, I’m sorry for you we are a delightful bunch). And please note the word given. I was able to go there by a fully paid scholarship, and never before have I felt like I belonged somewhere. That I was deserving, and I hope one day I can pay it forward and not only pay for myself, but pay for someone else to go, because there is no shame in needing the support of your community.

To be an artist is to have a certain amount of privilege. Art is so necessary, but it’s hard to be an artist when you have the bigger concern of getting food on your table. It’s hard to grow as a writer when you don’t have access to resources, and I’m not even talking about classes or MFAs I’m simply talking about being able to read good books, participate in the literary world, and have consistent time to write. So I am grateful that Grub Street constantly strives to make their resources accessible to those who need it.

I am thankful I was able to receive a full scholarship, I’m thankful I was able to take it with grace and feel like I belong. Especially as a person of color. There have been many times in my life I have doubted I belonged, especially as a mixed person, especially when I’m the only or one of a few people of color in the room. I was reflecting on this as I’ve been writing daily poetry for #NaPoWriMo 2018. I wrote a poem about a time in college when I won a scholarship to live on campus my sophomore year of college and was then told by a “friend” that it was because I wasn’t white and wouldn’t have won it otherwise.

That was not the first time accusations like that have been made, and I doubt it will be the last. But let me tell you I deserved the scholarship then, and I sure as hell deserved this scholarship today and you know why? Not because I am the greatest writer ever. Not because I am a person of color and have struggled. Not because I am such a good person. Simply because I am a writer who needed it and decided to ask for help. And every person who applied I have no doubts deserved it too, because sometimes you don’t need to be extraordinary or super deserving, you just need to be a person in need of something. I am thankful to the literary community that this time was my shot.

I was told at the conference, you only need one agent to say yes, one editor to say yes to get published. And that’s all it takes for a lot of opportunities. So I’m going to celebrate every yes I get and do my best not to take a single no personally, especially since it’s typically my writing not me that’s being judged anyway. And when I get to be a more powerful literary citizen I can’t wait until I get some opportunities to say yes too. We all need a leg up we all deserve it, and I do think if I keep pursuing I’ll get one.

Why Everyone Thinks that They Care About Disability Rights When They Really Don’t — crippledscholar

I am reblogging because crippled scholar is such a valuable blog to me because it helps me get beyond myself. Plus I’m frustrated with people not following through on the things they say they care about.  Later today I’m writing about our general apathy and caring, but not really caring in regards to gun reform. So check that out later, but for now please read and really take in her words and if you can, donate, because her blog is so important and we all need to step up with our money and our time instead of wasting lip service.

On Thursday, Rachel Maddow asked “Who campaigns on gutting the American’s with Disabilities Act?” in a segment that included no interviews with disabled people. Who campaigns on gutting the Americans With Disabilities Act??? pic.twitter.com/LiZuSvAu0E — Maddow Blog (@MaddowBlog) February 16, 2018 She asks the question and seems to understand that the answer is “no, one” […]

via Why Everyone Thinks that They Care About Disability Rights When They Really Don’t — crippledscholar

Delightfully Alone

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Today in church in honor of the beginning of Black History Month (how is it February already!), we talked about race. We talked about what it really takes to be “woke” and how despite dismantling slavery we’ve never truly dismantled the lies that made it acceptable especially in the Christian church. It was powerful. As part of that it was also talked about how their needs to be understanding and community with all kinds of people, Christians should not be intentionally segregated. Thankfully that is not an issue for me, while making friends has always proved challenging I have always had a variety of friends I make friends with the young and old, black, white, and every other race, and many of my friends are all over the spectrum in terms of gender, politics, and religion. I love and appreciate it. I’m grateful that my friends constantly challenge me to see from a new perspective, it has been enriching to be a part of their stories.

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What has always been challenging is how introverted I let myself be. Sometimes I get lonely, but I also recognize I enjoy being alone, a lot of time has been pleasantly spent by myself the only company being my crazy cat who is more than content to simply curl up and sleep. For example tonight, basically everyone is out getting ready to enjoy the super bowl with other people, even my husband who barely likes football. Instead I am home, very excited about a Domino’s order on its way deciding what movie I’m going to watch tonight. TAH (the awesome housemate) was making fun of me about it, but it’s not like I didn’t have options. I just didn’t want them.

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Friendship has always been weird I crave it and yet I don’t always feel I have the full capacity to maintain it. Sure I have time, but I devote a lot of my time to my husband, then I’m working part time, I want to have space and flexibility to write, I have some responsibilities, and then I want some time to just be, that doesn’t always leave a lot of time to be with people. It’s funny I think I was more social when I was teaching, partially that’s because I wasn’t as depressed/wasn’t allowing myself to pay attention to how depressed I really was and because I spent so much time with people I didn’t want to be with, doing things I didn’t really want to do. I craved meaningful, joyful connection. Now that my work life is quieter and more enjoyable I don’t need as much distraction, hence spending Super Bowl Sunday delightfully alone.

I’m still working on the balance of being an introvert and being intentional with relationships. It’s something I’ll probably be playing around with for the rest of my life. And it does make the time I do spend with people that much richer. Since I spend limited time with others I do my best to be 100% present, I stay off my phone, I look you in the eyes when we talk, and I want to just really listen to you and enjoy you. I do recognize as well that as an introvert once you’re in my life I want to dig deep. Having a few friends I really know, love, and can count on, is way more important to me then having a lot of friends to hang out with. Because at the end of the day even when I can’t always see my friends due to distance, busyness, or introversion I know that I am deeply valued by them and deeply value them in return. So I may be alone not paying much attention to tonight’s Super Bowl (but trust me my loyalties still very much lie with the Patriots), I am in my own world content. Also my Domino’s order is on the road now, it’s going to be a good night.

Go Pats!

Glitter on!

Juanita