7 Things Sunday

One. My sister was offered a big girl job with Laura Geller Cosmetics in Columbia, South Carolina. She’s trying very hard to convince me to move there with her. Hmmmm ūüėČ I’m sad that she’s leaving Colorado, but I’m proud of her and excited for this new adventure! Way to go, Madison.

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Two. I wrote about the #KnowJustice project a couple months ago when I was working at ArtForceIowa. The Des Moines Register published this article, highlighting a little bit of what is happening with #KnowJustice and some other exciting arts events in Iowa that have to do with race and justice. I can’t wait to see what comes out of this workshop.

Three. This week my grandpa was in the hospital for a heart procedure that ended up not happening. They ended up needing to¬†start him on a new medication that required monitoring him in hospital for several days. I spent a few of those days¬†hanging out with family in his room¬†and keeping grandma company over night. She¬†kept telling grandpa, “I kind of love you a lot” and giving him kisses. And then at one point when he was getting an EKG he told the nurses he wanted grandma to come over and give him a kiss while they were scanning him so that he could see what it did to his heart. Seriously?! Stop. it. I can’t handle that kind of adorableness. #lifegoals.

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They make my heart explode.

Four. I’ve now reached 6 months into my job search. If P.O.D can get nominated for a Grammy three times, I feel like I should be able to land a job in my field, you know? Sometimes life is cruel and unfair. But there are a few applications I’m feeling fairly optimistic about. Fingers crossed. Toes crossed. Everything crossed. Waiting is hard. Staying really proactive in the waiting is even harder. But I know that life happens between point A and point B. I will always be waiting for something, so I should learn to love what happens while I wait.

Five. ¬†I think you have to be very close to someone in order to have the green light to go off on them when they’re being dumb. In my opinion, you have to approach these situations from a place of, “I could be wrong, but…”¬†but still… I respect and appreciate the hard blow of redirection when it comes from a loving place. And it rarely comes. Most of my friends are listeners. They ask good questions. They’re comforting. But sometimes being a true friend isn’t just blindly agreeing, standing in solidarity, or waiting to see what happens. It’s coming alongside,¬†telling them their eyes are closed, and shouting out what it is you see. The other night I was telling one of my best friends about something that happened recently, and they just went off on me and got upset. But I understood they weren’t upset¬†at¬†me or¬†with¬†me,¬†but¬†for¬†me. And I needed that. I needed to have my motives challenged and my actions questioned so I could figure out how to either defend myself or realize I was wrong. I needed to hear the perspective that wasn’t “I understand,” but rather, “I don’t understand what you’re thinking or doing. This is¬†insane and f-ed up and you need to ___ because I love you and I hate seeing ___.” I need to be better at this as a friend, too. It’s a delicate balance and a thin line because when are you being a good friend and when are you just being an ass? BUT, is it not completely worth figuring out how to do gracefully?

Six. This is awesome.¬†And then Frieda told them about love…

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Seven.¬†I was in a yoga class this week where the instructor played this song during savasana and I legit shed a few tears. It’s like a musical security blanket. I will not apologize for kind of really loving The Fray.

Love,

Taylor

7 Things Sunday

Goodness. I haven’t done one of these since June.¬† Oh summer, how you tend to fill up fast and fly by far too quickly.

One. I celebrated my birthday on July 4th! I had breakfast at La Mie with some of my favorite ladies and spent the weekend in Minnesota preparing for the nuptials of my friends Sarah and Shaun. I could not get over what a drop dead gorgeous bride Sarah was. And she threw one heck of a dreamy wedding. I was incredibly honored to be a part of it and feel that I did my due diligence on the dance floor (surprise, surprise). At one point it was only a four year old and I out there literally running in circles to Katy Perry. Oh, and a shout out to Ashley, who cut my bridesmaid dress shorter at the reception so that I could run in those circles.

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Little Vivian painted this for me. Isn’t it the cutest, ever?

Two.¬†My job has kept me very busy. Sometimes I want to hyperventilate. John Mark and I stress-eat way too many fruit snacks. But look! So much to love. And I’m thrilled to say that we met our enrollment goal, which I thought would be impossible. Yeah! Teamwork!¬†My last few weeks working¬†will be filled with video production, street art, a back-to-school Literacy Launch, and our end of summer open house/ice cream social¬†(mark your calendars: August 18 from 4-7)!

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Three.¬†My UK visa was approved and processed! So, I am OFFICIALLY going to Scotland for graduate school. I leave the first week of September and I will graduate next year in June.¬†Let’s hang out and do fun summer adventure things before I fly away, okay?

Four.¬†I’m obsessed with this quote because I have never read anything that describes so perfectly how I feel nearly all the time:

“My heart wants roots. My mind wants wings. I cannot bear their bickerings.” – E.Y. Harburg

Five. My sister passed flight attendant training school this weekend.¬†She’s going to be the sweetest little stewardess the skies ever did see. So proud of you, Madison! Here’s to your great new adventures.

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Six. I was so thankful to be able to enjoy a weekend in the Ozarks at my family’s “Playhouse” with wonderful people. Highlights included: Games of Quelf, King’s Cup, and Powerhour, jumping off the dock, s’mores dip,¬†late night swims to take in the starry night sky, karaoke, a giant bowl of the best¬†guacamole ever, hours of¬†good conversation in the relaxation stations, a¬†group twerk-off (don’t ask), afternoon naps, and celebrating Sterling’s 1st birthday!

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Seven. Movies I saw recently and more or less loved:

Boyhood

Guardians of the Galaxy

Wish I Was Here

Begin Again

Love,

Taylor

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I was ten. I was running through the sprinkler in my underwear. Blades of grass stuck to my skin. My body was long and lean, void of any curvature. It was whole and mine. It allowed me to do backbends and cartwheels. That is all I noticed about my body.

I was twelve. I was sitting at the kitchen table in my pajamas. My dad looked at me sympathetically and told me that I had reached an age¬†where boys would start to see me differently. He spoke of¬†the differences between boys and girls and hormones. ‚ÄúBoys are visual. Girls are emotional.‚ÄĚ So, child, you must be careful. The world will make sure you learn not¬†desire for the other, but the desire to be desired.

I was fourteen. I took off my jacket at lunchtime, scandalously revealing my strapless shoulders.[1] The Vice Principal swore at me. I was sent to the office a for a second outfit violation that year. Blindsided and face burning with humiliation, I hid in the bathroom stall¬†and changed into clothes my mom had to bring me. My parents read me something out of Dr. Phil‚Äôs ‚ÄėHow to Talk to Your Teen‚Äô book. I was learning that people had opinions about my body. Now there were rules regarding my skin.

I was sixteen. I was wearing a high-collard turquoise t-shirt and a long skirt. I was teaching vacation Bible school for children in the villages of Panama. We were singing Abre mis ojos oh Cristo and throwing a giant colorful tent up in the air. Tiny ones squealed with delight and ran under. I felt a tap on my shoulder and the leader asked me to talk to her for a minute. We walked to the church entrance, where she told me that since my chest was big and my shirt was too tight, boys were staring at me. She lent me a big t-shirt to put on, lest the outline of my body cause those brothers of mine to sin.[2] You don’t want to do that, do you? I walked back to the giant colorful tent, now resembling what I was wearing. I looked over at the boys leaning out the church windows. My heart beat faster. Lying on the church’s cement floor that night, from my sleeping bag I watched my cursed chest rise and fall. I was drenched in a humid sweat, soaked with shame. On this day, a tiny bit of my innocence was sacrificed. The impact of your naturally developing curves is a dangerous thing, apparently. Hide.

I was eighteen. I was wearing jeans and a hoodie. It is important to note that my face and hands were the only parts of me exposed because I was on a service trip in Morocco[3], a place that forced me to constantly be aware of my femaleness. It was a place where I was chased out of a market. Where I sat in an Internet caf√© writing e-mails while the man at the computer next to me watched porn. Where a man on the street asked if he could bring me home to his mother and fuck me. Where I listened to people have sex against the door to my hostel room. Where I was constantly ‚Äúcomplimented‚ÄĚ in the streets and strangers were not afraid to touch you. One day, I was sitting on a park bench reading my Bible. Two men walked up and sat on either side of me. They began speaking to me in Arabic. I did not look up or respond. I just stared at Isaiah‚Äôs verses, resting on my knees. Then I heard in broken English whispers that felt wet and hot in my ears, ‚ÄúWhy you no talk to us? We be nice.‚ÄĚ They played nice with their hands, which found their way to my neck, gliding down my breasts, and landing in my crotch. My legs, despite their Jell-O consistency, found the strength to stand. I apologized to the men for not wanting to talk to them as I walked away. When I came back home, the prayer ladies told me that maybe I was supposed to go back to Morocco because it was obvious the devil didn‚Äôt want me there.

I was nineteen. I was wearing a white dress. It had little cap sleeves with sequins. The air was crisp. My stomach was in knots. I was his. We made lots of promises. We lit a candle and put rings on our fingers. We danced.¬†It was sweet and sparkling and blissful. He carried me away and unlaced the white dress. I laced up my lingerie. Nothing went the way I thought it would. Rejection. Lies. Confusion. I had a¬†lot of exposure to a world of fantasy¬†and I grappled to understand how they became more desirable than reality.[4]¬†You‚Äôre supposed to be both. But you‚Äôre not supposed to be both. The messages say things like: Be a virgin when you get married, but also know exactly what you‚Äôre doing in bed and be really good at it. Be outraged by the objectification of the female body, but also see your own as the sexual object it is. Just be you, but also look and act like these¬†women. He’ll love you for it. You are valued for your purity, but desired for your promiscuity.

I was twenty-one. I was in the bathtub wearing a layer of bubbles. I knew something was wrong and I was trying to wash it off. He came in and sat on the bathroom floor. I asked him how he was doing. He admitted to this one thing that made my nose crinkle. This was different than the other things. Every cell in my body felt wide-awake and dead at the same time. This feeling wasn’t going to wash off. Something had to change. I can try to be or look as beautiful and perfect as possible, but I am it is not enough. I can leave for one, three, or five months, but I am it is not enough. I can read all the books, do all the research, plan all the things, say all the prayers and attend all the counseling sessions, but I am it is not enough. I can want, wish and love with all of my being but I am it is not enough. Something had to change.[5] It was me. The feeling never washed off.

I am twenty-four. It is pouring rain. The humid summer kind of rain. I’m wearing a striped dress, cotton clinching to my grass-covered skin. I’m dancing. My body, which has felt burdened and hallow for months, finds in this moment a sweet release. There is pure, unadulterated joy beaming from my twirling limbs and bouncing wet waves. My body is soft and strong, no longer void of curvature. It is whole and mine. It is more than enough. It still allows me to do backbends and cartwheels, among a million other amazing things. That is all I notice about my body.

 

[1] There is nothing scandalous about my shoulders.

[2] Boys are not helpless victims when it comes to their eyes. The evidence of my breast size does not cause them to sin.

[3] I was fully clothed when I was assaulted. Sexual assault happens because the perpetrator wants it to happen, not because any woman ‚Äúasks for it‚ÄĚ with her appearance.

[4] Love it or hate it; porn is a lie. It is a performance. It is not an instruction manual. Never before in our world have we had such immediate access and extreme exposure to this kind of media and at such young ages. Science is starting to show the negative effects it is having on our brains, relationships, and society.

[5] There is nothing I can do to create or initiate change in someone else.

 

Love,

Taylor

7 Things Sunday

 

One. This week I cat sat while my mom was out of town. I wasn’t exactly a fan of waking up at 3:30 every morning to meowing for God knows what, but I did get to accomplish some things while having the place all to myself. Like this…


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Two.  In case you all haven’t caught on to the fact that I love my job yet, I’ll just put in another shameless plug for ArtForceIowa and the privilege I have to work with the youths.

Here is the DSM Immigrant Hero video that the group I worked with made last week. Alejandro is a gem. We loved getting to hear about his job, heart, and vision:

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Here are some of the t-shirt designs the kids have made through our screen-printing workshop. They are available to purchase here.

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Here is a grid project we made in Art workshop on Thursday.

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Three.¬†I giggled about this sighting at the DSM Farmer’s Market for a long time. Come on, mom and dad! You’re supposed to catch these things. Hehehehe.

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Four. While completing loan counseling for graduate school this week, I had a mild panic attack at how much student loan debt I will graduate with. It’s giving me second thoughts about the whole thing! I hate that everything comes down to the dollars in life. Fear & Logic Taylor is fighting with YOLO-Spirit Taylor and it’s a mess. I think YOLO-Spirit Taylor is winning, though.

Five.  I volunteered with a group of friends at the DSM Art Festival’s beer and wine tent Saturday afternoon. It was so much fun! Then we spontaneously had a tiny early celebration of my birthday, which I will sadly be gone for next week. We hot tubbed in a downpour, ate pizza and listened to live music, bought desserts at Gateway Market, danced to Katy Perry in Emily’s kitchen, and all crashed watching Moonrise Kingdom.

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Six.  Friday night was book club with these beauties. We read Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (to which no one gave a score lower than 9/10. You won our hearts, Chimamanda. You won.). But for real, it was probably the best book I’ve read all year. I’ve read a couple of her books and she is a master story-teller. Americanah was extremely thought provoking, every topic it touches ripe with importance and incredible observation. The characters felt astonishingly real, wielding sentences that could pierce right through me. It is ballsy, exposing, and brilliant. Next on the list is An Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman.  

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Seven. 

People are often unreasonable, illogical and self centered;
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and your God;
It was never between you and them anyway.

-Mother Teresa

 

Love,

Taylor

 

7 Things Sunday

One.¬†After graduating high school I started sending my bff Andrew postcards and various forms of snail mail. I’ve more or less kept it up for 6 years now. I’ve never once gotten a piece of mail from him in return…UNTIL THIS WEEK. Okay, so it wasn’t a letter or postcard. In fact, there wasn’t anything written anywhere. But he did send me this:

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Commonly known as ‘The Man of My Dreams Pillow’ or ‘The Boyfriend Pillow’. I guess it’s my own fault for joking about getting one? If anyone wants to borrow this awkwardness, it’s all yours. And he still needs a name. Suggestions are welcome.

Two. NEEDTOBREATHE  on the Riverfront was definitely the highlight of my week. I enjoy them even more live than I do recorded. It was the perfect summer night. The view. The sunset. The people. The dancing. Aaaaahhhhh.

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Three. ArtForceIowa just completed the first week of our DSM Immigrant Heroes Video Production Workshop. My team, which had students from Ecuador, Congo, and Liberia chose Nancy Mwirotsi as our DSM Immigrant Hero. It was wonderful getting to hear her story. She is an intelligent and incredibly servant-hearted woman doing many great things for the refugee community in Des Moines. You can check out all the DSM Immigrant Hero interviews here.

Four. I really miss the time in my life when rollerblading was my main mode of transportation.

Five. This documentary is worth the watch: 

Six.¬†On a less serious note…this video is also worth the watch (if you’re a New Girl fan):¬†http://video.gq.com/watch/the-new-girl-guys-moty-2012

Seven.¬†Today as we celebrate Fathers, my thoughts are with those who have lost them, although they live on in memory and spirit. Since last Father’s Day, I’ve had two friends and a family member say goodbye to their fathers. I also began working closely with a population of youth that are largely fatherless, emotionally or physically. After hearing their stories, I realize some of them are probably better off without their dads being involved in their life. There is biology and then there is character. If you feel a sting of pain on this day for whatever reason, I’m so sorry. May you relish in any good memories you have of your father. Maybe you can still write him a Father’s Day card whether he’s around to receive it or not? That sounds therapeutic. Whatever your situation is, I hope that you can think of someone to celebrate today; I hope there has been some man who you admire that has been invested in your life. I don’t claim to have a clue what I’m talking about or what it’s like. Just know I’m holding you in my heart today.

Love,

Taylor

Juvie Jamz

It’s time for another Juvie Jam.

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When I was a boy I was raised in the trap

Never wanted a toy unless it resembled a gat

Me and my little brother was skinny ‘cuz we were barely eatin’

We got our water from a neighbor’s pipe that was leakin’

Mama stayed in her room ‘cuz she was always tweakin’

Daddy was in prison, they didn’t free him

I used to see my Grandma every other weekend

Not anymore because she has trouble breathin’

I think my family just needed help

By the time I was 9 I had to fend for myself

That same year I started bangin’, I found another family

They taught me loyalty and respect

They understand me

They taught me love, they taught me care

They taught me to never snitch and to that I solemnly swear

While other kids had books and backpacks

I had hooks and crack bags

I have no feelings to feel

Just worried about a ceiling and meals

Every night I walk into a cloud of meth smoke

Every night I lay on my bed and ask myself is life and death a joke?

-C

Also. THIS. Those budding artists, let me tell ya…

 

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Taylor

 

At The Moment

I am…

Suffering from Peter Pan Syndrome. Being an adult + the arrival of Summer = severe symptoms.

You start growing up accustomed to¬†this work hard/play hard cycle of school life and then all of the sudden you’re in a NO BREAK EVER life. What?! Who approved this?

Can’t I just not reply to work emails for three months and then come back in September and pick up where I left off?

Remember¬†the glorious adrenaline¬†of the last day of school? It signified the arrival of the freedom months. It meant full days spent at the pool with your best friend, ingesting an ungodly amount of freezer pops. It meant mischievously prank calling boys who still had little girl voices, sprinklers and water guns, turning three shades darker without even trying, multiple sleepovers a week, eating tubs of raw cookie dough with Doritos and frozen pizza (metabolism…what’s that?), sweaty hand holding, building rafts at the beach, wearing a swimsuit 3/4ths of the day, road trips to thrilling places like Adventureland, and living completely unconcerned about what time you had to wake up in the morning.

Now Summer means sitting at a desk all day praying to God the office AC doesn’t break. It means forcing yourself to be productive when all you want to do is float down a river inside of an inflatable donut¬†or take a nap in a hammock. It means still setting your alarm, still¬†getting dressed, still¬†paying bills,¬†still¬†feeling worthless after a workday, etc.

I’m not saying Summers aren’t fun anymore. They’re still the best. But¬†you never get back those few months of blissful, ignorant, youthful freedom. And that is a tragedy. RUUUFIIOOO.

Grateful for¬†friendships near and far.¬†I think something unique happens when people become friends¬†because the universe brought them together in another country, for a specific amount of time, to experience something intense and out of the ordinary together. I’m not exactly sure why, but for me at least, there is a pull to keep those people close. Maybe because they’re my only few ties to a life altering experience. Maybe because we lived in places and spaces where all we could do was talk. For hours, days, months. My friend Melissande and I have been in a season of communicating frequently. It’s been 5 years since we were aimlessly wandering the streets of Morocco, but we’ve continued to share life over Skype and through cards/packages. My friend Sarah, who I met in YWAM, asked me to be a bridesmaid in her wedding this Summer- yeaaahhh!¬†I’ve stayed in touch with the three people I interned with in Uganda,¬†visiting and checking in with each other. Each one of them has really been there for me lately, even if we’re oceans apart. It means a lot. And I’m constantly blessed and amazed by the friends I have surrounding me every day. I don’t know why or how I got so lucky. As cliche as it sounds, they make me a better person and I would be in a far darker place right now if it weren’t for their love and zeal for life. So thank you (you all know who you are). A million times. Thank you.

All about the little victories.¬†¬†When you find yourself challenged beyond what you thought you were capable of, the small victories become all the more precious. Stress and worry¬†have tried to swallow me whole the past few months, but there is one victory I have been relishing in: the absence of self-doubt. I believe in myself. Don’t ask me why the realization of that comes as a bit of a surprise. But I’m proud of myself. I know that I am capable. Of reaching new levels of health. Of obtaining my dreams. Of saying no. Of great love. Of conquering fear. Of gracefully embracing change. Of deeper faith. I’ve got this. Breathe. Keep your eyes open, your chin up, and your heart full.

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Love,

Taylor

7 Things Sunday

One. On Monday I laughed until my sides ached, which is one of the better ways you can start off a week. Dave Ross and Kyle Kinane had a fantastic comedy set at Vaudeville Mews. And I was surrounded by these lovely gents from PHS days, making the whole situation even better.

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Two. Everything leading up to the ArtForceIowa Open House on Wednesday afternoon is pretty much a blur. But all the chaos and frenzy funneled into a successful event! There was art on the walls, students galore, performers singing, an interactive assemblage project exploding, doughnuts being eaten, etc.

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Three.¬†I sent my Grandma Jeanne a Happy Mother’s Day text. 5 days later she sent me this:

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Would you look at the use of that space bar?! ¬†I’m keeping this forever. I know she’s reading this. I love you, Grandma. You’re really cute.

Four. I woke up Thursday with a really sore throat and by Friday afternoon it was gone. I thank this guy…

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I’m a believer.

Five. These songs.

Six.¬†Saturday was second annual outdoor Water Ride. Thanks to generous sponsors like Des Moines Water Works, 100% of the proceeds from this bike ride go towards clean, sustainable water wells and education in Ghana! We only had around 25 registrants at the beginning of the week, causing us all to mildly freak out. But we had over 70 riders yesterday and it was one of the most beautiful days EVER for a bike ride! The staff at Orlondo’s graciously “hosted” us and provided riders with specials on pizza and beer (they also brought us volunteers jello shots and maracas?…I don’t get it, but I’ll take it) Thank you to everyone who helped and supported- thanks to you, Tsipasi’s water well will be officially operative on Memorial Day!

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Seven. What a week. Phew. Sometimes the best gift you can give yourself is a guilt-free nap. True story.

Love,
Taylor

Juvie Jamz

Every week at work we go into the juvenile detention center and do a one hour art or writing workshop with youth there. It’s a great way to briefly spare them from boredom and recruit kids that are interested in participating in our programs once they’re out of detention. Sometimes it’s fantastic. The kids are engaged and happy to be there. Other weeks feel like disasters. The past couple weeks we’ve been expanding on the idea of home. We’ve encouraged them to come up with similes and metaphors for home. To think about what home is or where home is. To explore unique ways of describing where they come from. For one person it’s grandma’s house. For another it’s the basketball court. Or Chester’s Chicken. Or the neighborhood park. Or Liberia. After hearing/reading what emerged,¬†it felt good to know that everyone could at least think of some place or someone that felt like home, even if the connotations weren’t great. On the other hand, my heart still sank into my gut. It’s hard to wrap my head around these homes I’ve never entered. But I think what they write exposes a lot. I learn a lot about them and where their heads are at without having to outright ask them and without them having to outright tell me. There’s this strange paradox I see of kids having to grow up way too fast, but never actually growing up. I’m not sure if that came out right or makes sense. Anyway…here’s an example (from a kid who wouldn’t perform his rap in front of me because he said my ears were too precious):

I come from a broken home, shattered dreams and stained mildew floors

Crawling around on all fours in my drawers

My dad always high like my ambitions to grow and survive

I went from not knowing when I’d eat to having so much, I’d throw away half my plate

I went from a rental property to a place I’d learn to call home

My dad smoked so much meth, he done lost his dome

But my mom, cold as stone, took me away and said he’d have to live on his own

Not always the best, my whole life’s been a test

I’d have to learn a lot of things on my own because my dad left me

On Father’s Day I used to cry

I’d wish death upon my dad in my own eyes

Through all the deception, all the lies, he left a son who would have to find his own will to strive and survive

 

Juvie Jamz

I have a severe case of job whiplash (a general life whiplash, to be honest). It isn’t a bad thing. It just is what it is. I took a job at a non-profit arts organization that offers art and workforce readiness programming for at-risk/court-involved youth. So, I basically went from spending all day with the sweetest baby girls to juvenile delinquents. I went from nursery rhymes and pre-school pick up to court rooms and gangster rap. It’s been a weird transition. But hey… I’m excited to have a job in my field! I love what the organization does and am excited about the summer programming possibilities/opportunities. I believe so passionately in the¬†transformative power of art and am driven to see these kids achieve their best¬†in ways that are dignified and fulfilling. I’m honored to be a support, an advocate, a cheerleader.

Granted, I’m only two weeks into this job, so maybe I’m over analyzing all of this…but here’s what’s going on in my head and heart:

I’m just a nice,¬†fairly quiet, middle-class, small town, white girl. I don’t know what its like to grow up in foster care or be initiated into a gang when you’re¬†6. I don’t know what its like to see your brother get shot or to shoot someone else’s brother. I don’t know what its like to live in fear of getting jumped. I don’t know what its like to have parents addicted to drugs. I don’t know what its like to runaway from home. I don’t know what its like to get arrested. I don’t know what its like to hold so much anger and hate in my body. I don’t know what its like to always be in trouble. I don’t know what its like to have a .1 GPA. I don’t know what its like to experience racism. I don’t know what its like to be really poor.

And I feel guilty for all of that. For the sake of bonding, relating, understanding, being influential, etc…I wish I shared in the experiences. It’s strange to be in an environment where being¬†myself feels hard and awkward. It baffles me how insecure teenagers can make me feel about myself haha isn’t it supposed to be the other way around?

“You just don’t get it.” Truth. I don’t. I can’t. But I want to. Is that enough? Or are the all the words from my lips going to be discredited? Will my be attempts at being genuinely interested and invested roll off your shoulders?

“That’s impossible.” I believe that there are ways out of tough situations but maybe that’s because I’ve been afforded¬†options and opportunities my whole life. I believe you can overcome addiction, but maybe that’s because I’ve never had one. I believe you can stop cycles of violence, but maybe that’s because I’ve read a lot about achieving peace.

“I can’t change it.” I think part of every egocentric high-schooler is the inability to see or imagine beyond what is right in front of them. I know I’ve been there before. That said, it has been amazing to me to see how much power the past seems to hold for them. The belief that your past not only influences, but dictates your future. The belief that the past is a much stronger force than the present. Obviously there is a lot¬†about our pasts we didn’t have control of: where we were born, who are parents were, our social and economic status, how we were raised, what we saw and¬†what was done to us as children, etc. There are¬†uncontrollable factors that set us up on involuntary trajectories. Yet, I just have such a hard time believing that the past robs us of change, if we want it badly enough. I might not “get” where they’ve been or what they’ve done, but I want them to look where they’re going. And I feel like I need to expect things from them. You know, bigger, better, brighter things.¬†I don’t know the¬†cost/benefit analysis of something like leaving a gang. I don’t know how difficult it is to jump through systems. Everything is easier said than done, I know. Maybe change or doing the “right” thing means taking a beating or lots of beatings, or losing family, or moving away from everything you know.

Cue: City High ‘What Would You Do’

*sigh*

I’m constantly picking apart every interaction and they probably couldn’t care less. C’est la vie.

In summary:¬†I don’t know anyyythiiinnngggg. But¬†whatever, tough kids…

I’m just going to be there. To help you apply for jobs. To ask you about how you’re going to achieve your goals. To tell judges that you’re involved in something good. To draw next to you. To listen to your free-styles. To read your poems. To be proud of you. I’m going to love you to pieces (but honestly, I will probably never love dirty south rappers or your Nicki Minaj art collages).

Deal.

Without further ado…here is a piece written by one of the students during a free-writing activity we led at the detention center last week. Juvie Jamz might make¬†a semi-regular blog appearance:

“I come from drugs

Where every nigga’ round me gettin’ mugged

Where people catchin’ feelings trynna get snug

When girls in your ear listen to your convos like they planted a bug

Where to the West, them white girls got their Columbias and Uggs

Where sleepin’ under the bridge is better than sleepin’ in the mud

Little girls go from tots to thoughts and every nigga you see endin’ up on the Block”

-Anonymous

Love,

Taylor