How blessed I am, I cannot begin to comprehend

My life outstretched in front of me, I decided to extend my arms longer although I thought my arms had made up their mind. No farther.

I hijacked my body for hundreds of miles, although each fiber conspired to remain.

I lost everything that ever meant anything to me and found my meaning in having none of it.

I laughed at how painful it was to keep moving, and moving, and abandoning the world I had claimed previously.

Realizing, the world is not mine to claim.

I am simply its pawn.

It has claimed me and assigned me to this mission.

So if you love me, let me go far-

Let me go tell the others the heaven that awaits them

When they take that next step, and

Grasp their chance at living.

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finding my words // keeping them safe

I never ever ever want children. // I would have your children.

Thank you for humanely removing bugs from my room. // he called it “his room.”

He mentioned our honeymoon. // how many times can we talk about the future until it is upon us?

Pain is leaving your side. // strength is allowing myself to break each time.

I’m not vulnerable. // I cried during sex. // tears of joy // when will you show me your tears?

You called it the best day of your life. // all I did was come home.

I apologize for leaving so often. // wandering hurts when you’re in love. // a tether to home

How can we survive this? // hard times ahead // that has never caused fear before

You swept me off the ground // lifted me to the heavens // kissed me like it was the first night

The moment stole my words // nothing so perfect as our silent bliss // can we freeze time?

Wrapped myself around your body // refused to let go // every laugh is like the first // you // out of anyone fill me with life // there is nothing without you // I can’t call you anything else /

I will never get a tattoo. // I would get matching ink with you.

I teach you various languages and you pick up certain phrases // media naranja // my half orange //

I searched the galaxy and came up empty // lost in your eyes // I knew it // my soul- mate

The case for more conscious rap

**Trigger warning: sexual assault**

Conscious rap is a term that describes rap that aims to impart knowledge on listeners and has a higher meaning than other rap. For some, it’s a preference. I believe it is necessary.

As I explore more rap, the more I discover its damaging aspects. First, there’s the misogyny. This is so much of an issue that there is an entire Wikipedia page devoted to it.

Tied to this misogyny is the disgusting usage of rape as a joke. Tyler the Creator rapped about raping a pregnant woman in “Tron Cat.” Eminem says in “No Favors,” “I sodomize like an ass-raper.” These two artists continuously promote sexual assault and abuse with their lyrics, and it’s not something we can laugh off.

Sexual assault should not be mentioned in a song unless it’s to raise awareness for the alarming rate of it. (See: Lady Gaga’s “Til it Happens to You” from the Hunting Ground)

As rap becomes more popular with young listeners, the more damaging its overt talk of drugs, crime, and sex becomes. For young men, it’s encouraging. For young women, it’s threatening.

I don’t have a problem with explicit lyrics, but I do have a problem with misogyny and the glamorization of drugs and crime as attributes of success.

I will be the first to admit that I do listen to problematic rap. My favorite rapper, Kanye West, while “conscious” in many ways, is also famed for his misogynistic lyrics (“I made that bitch famous”). I still believe the rap world needs more conscious rappers. Rappers like Kendrick, Logic, Raury, and Cole address social problems and use the attention they receive to educate the public on things that matter. And while they aren’t without their flaws, I recognize their efforts to address social issues and use their art to promote a positive message. I worry that other rappers have strayed from their original intent to do the same.

Rap has been a heterosexual male-dominated genre since it originated, and time is well overdue to bring justice to women and LGBTQ+ individuals. It’s already hard enough for anyone other than straight men to succeed in the game, and to succeed female rappers typically must either masculinize themselves enough to be on par with male rappers, or sexualize themselves enough to receive their validation. Justice is long overdue for women and queer folks in music. The continued exploitation of sexual assault in rap is threatening to their well- being and provides an overall unwelcoming environment for their success.

It’s time to open the world of rap to more social consciousness. As more and more citizens become engaged with social justice, they will no longer tolerate ignorance in their music. Artists needs to catch up to the times. I don’t believe all rap needs to be conscious rap, but all rap should be free of blatantly irresponsible lyrics. If you’re going to rap, say something worth listening to that doesn’t demean anyone.

While conscious rap is on the rise, with albums like All Amerikkkan Badass by Joey Bada$$ and Everybody by Logic addressing the current political sphere, there remains a large portion of rap that continues to perpetuate not only negative, but destructive ideas. Rap may be free from clean language, but it should not be a free-for-all where all ethics go out the window. Rappers receive ample attention and fame, and they should use their influence to advance knowledge. When they promote negative ideas, their artistry is trashed and the name of rap is defamed. Rap has deep roots in protest culture and pride in one’s identity. A return to this will not only appeal to more listeners, it will help empower the public to continue fighting for justice.

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Conscious rap selections, from top to bottom: Logic’s Everybody, Joey Bada$$’s All Amerikkkan Badass, Childish Gambino’s CAMP, and Vic Mensa’s There’s A Lot Going On

Am I a Fake Minimalist?

Moving back into my father’s house, I was unpacking suitcase upon suitcase. It wasn’t an extreme amount of stuff, since it could fit in my car to make the journey home, but it was enough to take me over an hour to organize. It was too much.

After downsizing my life and trying time after time again to sell and responsibly ditch my possessions, I had too much.

Was I a fake minimalist?

What is a minimalist anyways?

You apparently must buy a very small number of things from the day you start bringing things into your life. I will be twenty this year and I am still drowning in possessions.

This is a warning to everyone: stop buying stuff. You don’t need even half of what you buy.

Re-evaluate why you bring things into your life. Do you feel better when you buy things? How long does it take for that feeling to fade? Then you’re stuck with less money and more junk. More things and less space in your home, and less time since you must spend some of your time organizing and tending to your possessions.

Your possessions will possess you.

It happened to me.

I went through an emotional process of purging myself of possessions, and I still have too much. I have repeatedly had to confess my sins: my past prioritization of possessions and my past purchases from unethical businesses. The businesses I paid to enslave other humans for my benefit.

I have been disgusted and disappointed with my former, ignorant self. And I have drastically transformed my habits. Now, I only buy what I need. I shop from responsible retailers, and I promote sustainable choices to others. I try to repent for my sins, but I still have the evidence of my former self.

I have realized nothing I do now can erase my past mistakes. I will be shedding these remains for years to come, as I learn, my style evolves, and I let go. I realize I am more myself, less stressed, and can travel more easily with less stuff. I can’t erase my past mistakes, but I can make better decisions today. Now, I am extremely hesitant to purchase anything that is not a necessity. Now, I stay woke about the movement for fair labor, and I stay active in pushing for this. But still, I can do more. I can write to companies asking for better. I can use my voice to speak to mainstream companies, rather than just opting for ethical alternatives (a boycott might not always be the best solution- more on this later).

I am less concerned about the “minimalist” label, and more concerned about the role I play in the overconsumption that swallows this country whole. Now when I stumble upon my mindless purchases, I can acknowledge where I was when I made the decision to bring that item into my life. I realize how far I have come, and how healthy it is for me to keep letting go of my old possessions. When I brought these things into my life, I was trying to fill a void. Now, when I let go, I can fill that void with something more meaningful: travel, introspective time, and exploring. The less I have, the freer I am.

Heed my warning now and save yourself some heartache: stop buying so much stuff.

 

To become more aware of the impact of your consumption, visit:

Slaveryfootprint.org

Weak

 

She is breaking her spine to love you.

Splitting vertebrae to render her spine yours.

Turning limbs in every wrong direction,

Fracturing her extremities to fit your theses.

She is dividing herself within in order to let you in.

She is piece by piece removing fallen branches

Returning the debris to her innards

So you are unable to see her dying.

Her world is curling up, so you may breathe

She is igniting forest fires.

To let you run free

She is conquering herself in private

So you are convinced you are supreme

She is demoting herself to lender

So you may take ownership of her bones.

You have taken her keys, and invaded her home.

Your capability of cradling a life form

Displayed with one minor tongue flop

Overcome with grief

she capsized-

“I am no longer weak in the knees

I am just weak.”

Dream House

What do you have to say for this love we built like sand castles

For the way you let my legs drape over your shoulders so that I could use our combined height

To create our dream house

For the way you stood on your tip toes and stretched your arms longer than I have ever witnessed

To build our dream house

For all of the wind and the weather and the waves we ignored to keep building and building, building

To create our dream house

What do you have to say for the fact that we chose a beach and we chose sand

To build our dream house

What do you have to say for the fact that we chose the water but we live in Michigan where it’s cold

What do you have to say for the fact that we took our separate dreams and amputated them from our bodies

To birth our dream house

What do you have to say for the fact that we let these limbs wash away

To create this dream house

What do you have to say- what do you think- what do you think about the separate realities we have attempted to merge

What do you have to say for the fact that I was building a sandy ranch on the beach and you wanted floors, and floors, you wanted a palace

What do you think about the fact that we were both working on the same house but a different dream

What do you have to say about the names I wrote in the sand, how I perfectly merged our names

How nothing ever really stays

in sand- it either blows away, or is crushed, or washes away

What do you have to say. What do you think about the fact that we have not washed away

But the floors of this dream house keep collapsing

Each gust of wind is like a spell against us

To build this dream house

What do you have to say of all the sand covered spells we cast on each other with eyes and tongues

What do you have to say of all the sand covered love we have shared in the sun

When the winter we live in has crept up slowly on our backs

And the tingle on my spine has a name written in the sand but it washed away with ours

And what do you have to say. What do you have to dream about anymore?

Now that the water has come and gone are the walls and the floors and every imaginary door

Of our dream house

sandcastle

 

The beauty of breaking regime

             For as long as I can remember I have had kept track of my food and activity levels obsessively. I have structured my days around a strict schedule of eating and working out. Even if I was really active in a day, I would still have to complete an actual fitness routine at days’ end to feel okay. I have guilted myself over eating foods laden with sugar and salt, although I eat almost an entirely whole foods vegan diet.  I have trapped myself in a mentality of perfection. Perfection morally speaking, healthfully speaking, and aesthetically speaking.

                I am beginning to finally break these habits and throw my toxic thoughts off their course. In the past month, I have worked out less than I have in a very long time. That’s not saying I haven’t been active- as a new yoga teacher, I practice almost every day, and add cardio days in between. But I have ceased the constant obsession with physical activity and its visible “gains” on my body. I have also veered off the raw vegan path. It has been strange to me. As I have rejected regime, I have been confused. I have tried to make myself feel bad, but I can’t. I am too awakened these days to cry over cookies with almond milk.

That being said, I still struggle with orthorexia every day. It has taken so much mental strength and awareness to not pressure myself into keeping this routine. Instead of following a predetermined fitness routine, I have been listening to what my body needs each day and following that. As a full time college student that works two jobs and has numerous extracurricular, I need to do this. It’s not just more sensible and time- conscious. It’s for my mental health- something I have always struggled to care for and to maintain, and something I strive to better each day.

Although I am already beginning to see room for improvements, I cannot say I regret the way I have been living this past month- not obsessing over food and fitness. I am healing with time. I am learning to only adopt routines that feed my mind, body, and soul. I am learning to reject societal ideals of what is beautiful, and not hate myself for not having the abs of Instagram celebrities.

I am learning to respect myself for all of the goodness I am bringing into the world, and realize so long as I am healthy I do not need to run myself into the ground. I am learning to treat myself as I would want others to be treated- dismissing self-criticism and comparison. I have found happiness right under my nose, so it seems silly to continue to desperately strive for an ideal that just isn’t me. Deepening my journey with yoga has been a huge part of this newfound self-worth. I bow to what my body can do, and the ways in which I am capable of transforming lives simply with a change in mental attitude. The mind is everything. So I am thinking of myself as a work of art. Not meant to be dissected, but meant to be celebrated, and to provoke thought and ideas in others.

I am proud to say I have broken regime. I haven’t tracked my food or fitness so closely in over a month, and I feel great about it. Maybe I will come back to these habits at some point, but right now I know I must provide the most care to my mental health, allowing myself to not just have a strong and effective body but a strong and successful mind as well. As I discover more and more what I value in life, I veer off farther and farther from previously held ideas of perfection. I am rejecting consumerism, materialism, and excessive technology, stress, and chaos. I am clinging to kindness, truth, nature, words, self- love, and gratitude. I am grateful for what I am. I am learning to accept it.d098695bc6cca645db901833ed1b2780

A difference in truths

Bring these stories to our feet. Trip us and bury us in the history that has made you suffer, that has brought you down, and entrenched your people with hate and violence.

I am not a war criminal, but I am a product of the times where war crimes are a point of American pride and most of us do not even realize growing up that patriotism is built on deceit- that the acres you inhabit are not yours. They are not yours. They were never yours. This land didn’t belong to you anymore than you belonged on it, any more than anyone belonged to you or owed you a damn thing just simply for existing. Any more than you deserve the ease of normalcy in a world that can see color for its own exclusion but be color blind all at the same time.

You see, our truth is for convenience. Our truth is made of darkness, fury, and violence. Nothing about me reeks of earned establishment. Nothing within me claims to belong here.

Your truth is for light, love, and liberation. You roar with the sear of pain and the might to break this curse.

I feel your longings, and I echo them. I sing with you as I let conquer. Conquer what was stolen from you. Show us what real power looks like, and how to operate as a moral authority (something we have never achieved).

I wish I could see a fruition, I wish I could see a day of a life where we all radiate. Your shine awakens me, but I will never live up (pressure creates diamonds).

But right now, it is your story to be told. It is my time to listen. So bring them at our feet. Don’t let us forget for a second.

 

for the forgotten natives of this country, and all of those who were brought here against their will.

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the journey.. thus far

2013. I started this blog as an ode to fashion.

2016. It has evolved and transcended what I ever thought it would mean to me- it has become an oasis for my words.

An island of poetry and forbidden fruit.

Thoughts I can’t shout anywhere but in an online space.

I have grown and changed immensely and part of that was giving myself up-

giving up my pain, to be discovered by others

even if I have not amassed a large quantity

it means the moon and stars to me

that someone has found solace in my words

in my scatterings of a life, my attempt to make something of myself

my efforts in rearranging pain

to create a constellation of hope.

SO thank you-

if you have just stumbled upon my page

or have returned time and time again

Thank you for supporting my art

thank you for this space for helping

support my life’s work.

much love,

s.m.

d.n.

Each day the sun draws the curtain and brings the shade.

The clouds roll back until they are wanted again.

The sky deepens.

It’s the daylight that taunts us.

Night is calm.

Night is a waterfall of sureness.

But day always breaks and we always wake to our unknowing minds.

We always greet our unknowing face in the mirror and move our unknowing limbs out the door.

We can’t escape the daylight.

We can’t forget that time is going going going and we have an endless array of puzzles to solve and ways to evolve.

The sun always sets, even if you think it’s only 2pm but it’s really 9.

Even if you think you’ve only lived a little but you’ve lived a lot.

You forget, but the sun remembers.

The sun knows what time it departs.

Every hour it sends us a reminder.

Deeper.

Darker.

Daylight is breaking;

Night is coming.

But like fools we romanticize the night and let the day run out of sight

Like fools we let the day go right before our very eyes.

8/5/16