African-American Writers’ Alliance

Hello, my dragons and dragon-lovers,

Occasionally, I plan to share information regarding literary and artistic organizations that I feel deserve more widespread acknowledgments. For that purpose, I would like to introduce you to an organization I have found through the grapevine: the Seattle-based African-American Writers’ Alliance (AAWA).

AAWA is a collective of Seattle writers of African descent that provides an informal and supportive forum for new and published writers. They host literary events, workshops, weekly readings and more in the surrounding Seattle Area.

Randee Eddins founded the organization in 1991, where she encouraged an exchange of ideas through the written word. In a mutually supportive setting, writers listened and shared their work without censure. AAWA has monthly meetings (Saturdays, Columbia City Branch of the Seattle Library, library opening until noon). For up-to-date information, please check out their website and consider becoming a member of this wonderful organization.

If you know of any other writing organizations in Washington or anywhere on the planet, please let me know to by commenting down below.

Thank you for reading and, as always, may you have peace, love, and pancakes my literary dragons!

What Not To Eat When Depressed and Craving Cinnamon Toast

First things first… Do not take out two sticks of butter from the fridge. Never do that. Butter is the gateway to bad times.

Okay. So you took out the butter. Even though I said not too… Okay. We can work with this. Just put that bowl of butter boldness back into the fridge and we will be okay. Just step go to that bowl and … Wait what are you doing with that fork… No stop! Put down that sugar!

Now look what you went and done did. You ruined perfectly good butter with sugar. What do you have to say for your…self… No! No! Put that down now!

I didn’t mean for you to put it into the… You know what? No, this is okay. You wasted butter and sugar and cinnamon but that’s okay. We can fix this. What? You also added vanilla? What is wrong with you? Go and throw this bowl of cinnamom sugar sin away. I’m going to go lie down and this bowl best be gone by the time I come back. God. Now my head hurts like a mother…

Okay, I am back and I thought it over. Maybe I was beong too harsh. I just know you are going through a lot so I wanted to make sure you didn’t … make… bad…

What is this?!?!

I can see that the bowl is gone and why does the house smell like a bakery!

No I don’t want to try one! Argh!

No. No. I’m out! Have your toasted cinnamon sins! I’m out!

How to Heal after being Profiled as a Cart Thief (because stealing carts is a lucrative business…)

Step 1: Sweet creamy protein chocolate goodness! Gives you the proteins needed for strong muscles to fight against systemic racism that has infected the minds of all humanity. Also, Chocolate because Chocolate.

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Step 2: Get out a recipe book you bought with your hard earn money. Make sure that everyone knows it is yours now and not that one lady that went to jail for lying Because she was a liar and you are not. So enjoy your honest purchase.

Thank you captialism.

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Step 3: Locate your spell and give thanks to the corporate gods that we have so much food in America that we can let it rot away. Really… we do… google that.

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Step 4: Prepare the cauldron! Make sure it is red. Like the blood that flows from the working and service classes of America. One day my brothers and sisters. One day.

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Step 5: Add your ingredients to the cauldron to create the perfect anti-fascist stew. The onions from a local garden, carrots from that neighbor with a truck, celery from that one Mexican single mother who bought too much, and tyme. Because all good things come with thyme.

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Step I forgot-the-number-so-sue-me: Stop taking pictures because all the other prep work takes time. Begin to ponder the many types of labor that are outside our corporate overlords sway yet are still needed in order for our nation to function and then slowly realize that all your labor that is not monetarily compensated is feminized labor…even going into birth is called labor…

And after the realization of the inability of the “free” market to truly provide “freedom” to the public and instead installs a system of classes that are arbitrarily assigned to individuals before they are even conceived …

BEHOLD!

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Serves 6 individuals and fills them with the energy and willpower to fight the good fight.

Dear Heather Heyer,

You are dead.

No wait…

Hi, Heather how are you?

No, that’s stupid, she is dead…

I am sad.

True but, argh!

Dear Heather I wrote a string of tweets yesterday because I was too high off of caffeine to care about grammar and if you want you can check out the tweets they are all about you and how your death impacted me and how I wish you lived so follow me at @poet_rose wait you can’t what the fuck am I still typing for.

Why am I such a mess?

Breathe.

Okay, try again.

Dear Heather, I found out your had a dog. Specifically a chichaucha and you named it violet and I had a dream about meeting your dog and it being stupid cute with buggy eyes and we went on an adventure to find violet doggy hair dye so we can run around Puget Sound with a violet dog but then I woke up and you are still dead…

… no…. that’s not what I want to say at all!

Dear Heather, fuck you for dying on us. No one had to die. But you had to be there. Didn’t you have better things to do besides fighting American Nazis!?! You had a dog, dammit!

That was just insulting but okay… no. Not okay. Try again.

Dear Heather, on August 12, 2017 you died for my right to exist in America but you never knew me. You marched against racist in Charlottesville, VA. You are technically White by American standards but I am beginning to think that European American would be more apt because I want to keep your name away from any association with those fucking bigots!

Too political… try again.

Dear Heather D. Heyer, your dad and mom were on the news. I read that you had a paralegal job and you are only a few years older than me. Heard you were going to go to school. You would have made a kickass lawyer. We also had a lot in common. You cry during sad and traumatic news and you are passionate about equality and you hate bigots and did I mention you had a dog named Violet. Your favorite color is violet.

Pick a past tense or present tense verb.

Fuck you.

What?

FUCK YOU. THIS SHIT IS HARD.

Yes but you got to.

I KNOW BUT SHE IS DEAD IT HURTS AND SHE CAN NEVER COME BACK AND SHE DIED FOR MY RIGHT TO EXIST AND WHAT CAN A SUICIDAL 28 YEAR OLD BLACK PINOY ON THE WEST COAST DO. I WAS ASLEEP WHEN THE CAR PLOWED THROUGH HER BODY AND SHE PROBABLY HAD DREAMS AND FOUGHT WITH HER PARENTS AND GOT DOGGY KISSES AND HAD LOTS OF LOVED ONES AND THEY ARE NOW SUFFERING ALL FOR MY RIGHT TO EXIST AND THAT WEIGHT IS TOO DAMN HEAVY IT FEELS LIKE AN ALBATROSS IS TIED TO MY CHEST AND IT IS SO FUCKING HEAVY SO I COULDN’T GET UP WHEN THEY ANNOUNCED HER DEATH I COULDN’T SHOWER OR EAT OR TALK I WAS JUST BAWLING ON THE FLOOR YELLING AT PEOPLE ONLINE BECAUSE I NEEDED SOMEONE ELSE TO KNOW HOW MUCH THIS HURT AND NOW IT IS DAYS AFTER HER DEATH AND IT STILL HURTS AND I AM TRYING TO MAKE SENSE OF IT ALL BUT SHE IS DEAD AND WHAT AM I SUPPOSE TO DO?!?!

… Live.

What?!?

Live. Honor Heather and live and write and hell, maybe get a bet dog named Violet. But live. Don’t throw your existence away because some assholes don’t want you in your homeland. Live. Live so fiercely that it pisses them off.

But, she is dead…

Many died for your right to live before her. She is now with them. Do what you do best with your life now. Write from them. To them. With them. Write, live, and love.

…I’ll try.

Okay. Up for another draft.

Sure…

Dear Heather Heyer,

Snoqualmie Falls

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Snowplow

On September 4, 2016, I went to see Snoqualmie Falls with a few friends. When we found a parking spot, which was its own adventure, we noticed this large snowplow.

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THE SNOWPLOW

Rusted and broken down, it stood as a testament to the ingenuity of man. This snowplow helped to clear of snow the tracks for lumber cars during Seattle’s youth. Still rather unfamiliar with snow, it amazes me that such a large plow would be needed.

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The beginning of the falls

After a bit of a hike, we reached the falls. There were many other pilgrims there, each wanting to take photos of the falls as the mist sprinkled our heads.

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The surrounding forest

I found myself wondering if the water droplets that flew in the air after the initial plunge down the falls kept the forest green.

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The Falls

The mist reminded me of dragon’s breath and I could have sworn a wyren lived behind the falls.

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The River

Such power followed by such calm.

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Mini Jet of Water underneath a Mountain

More proof of man’s hand.

The adventure was short but gave me plenty to think. How do hydroelectric plants provide us with electricity? Have the falls been negatively affected by tourists? If so, is there a way of reversing the damage? What stories do these falls hold? How many winters and springs have they seen?

I will return to them eventually, but for now I am enjoying the electric heat of my laptop and the sun beaming down from my window.

Adventures In Edmonds, WA

As mentioned in a previous post, you have to live to write and (for writers) write to live. The two are inseparable. So, I decided today was and exploration day. I picked a random park here my home and went for a mini-hike.

The park in question was…

My hike lasted on 30 minutes because the trail was pretty short and lead to residential areas. Also, I got hungry… But, there are many other trails to explore and I most definitely will be back soon.

The trees were huge and majestic. Some reached so high that I could barely make out the canopy. Others reminded me of the om, the idea of the continously echoing sound of the universe. Where one tree ends, another begins.

The local residents, however, reminded me that civilization and human impact have left their mark. This park was not as wild as I had hoped. There were sewer drains and manholes hidden under fallen pine needles. There were scattered pieces of trash here and there. But what was most disturbing to me was the ducks.

Animals, wild ones, usually run from me. I took it as part of their wildness and intellect. I would be afraid if a strange bipedal creature with large eyes and a light box came up to me to. But these ducks…

These cuterms guys followed me! Out of no where I heard the fluttering of ducks and the splash of their bodis hitting the pond. They must have heard me as I approached the pond. I took a look and saw 8 then 10 then 15 ducks heading my way. I started to back away as I realized that these ducks… have been unintentionally domesticated. So, I ran off but not before taking a quick pic of my duck chasers.

I then stumbled on an invasive species…

A bridge over a dry creek bed…

And the not-scary-at-all-tube-tunnel..

Nope not horror-movie-fuel at all. Nope…

And yes, I went through it. I held my phone out to light the path. The tunnel lead me to…

The street. I was so disappointed I didn’t bother to photograph this moment. I saw a Canada Dry can left by the other end of the tunnel and that was it.

All and all, my little hike did allow me to experience tempered nature in my new home town. I hope to explore more of Washington in the coming days.

Happy reading and happy writing my fellow dragons.

The Parable of Snack Time

The toddlers at the child care center I work at giving me many reminds of very old life lessons.Here is one, I call, the Parable of Snack Time.

“Snack time!” I said.

Twelve toddlers look up from what they were doing. Some start chanting “snake time!” Others drop their toys and waddle or crawl their way to an empty chair. Once all the children are sitting down and the tables are cleared of blocks, I begin to pass out today’s snack: Gold fish crackers and green beans.

After everyone has their snacks and water bottles, I seat down with them and talk with my coworker, Ms. Z. Ms. Z and I make sure to demonstrate what conversation should look like and how to seat in chairs. We ask the children questions about their day and so forth. Soon, there were empty snack plates and many still hungry children.

I get up to pass out more snacks. After the last child received their portion, I asked, “does anyone need anymore food?”

“More snack-y plwese,” said a little girl, name Mary.

I looked down at Mary’s plate. It was full. She hadn’t touched her snack all afternoon.

“Finish your snack, Mary,” I said.

“More snack-y!” she cried.

I pointed to her pile. She, in turn, pointed to the bag of cheesy goldfish.

“Don’t worry, I’ll give you more when yu are done.”

And that was when the tantrum began. She yelled and screamed for more goldfish. She the her arms left and right. Before she knew it, all her snack-y was all over the floor and Ms. Z intervened.

“Mary, you had snack, but now it is all on the floor. Come here and sit with me until you can calm down.”

After guiding a screaming Mary to Ms. Z, I swept up the rest of snack. By the time everyone was done with snack, Mary finally calmed down and I sat with her as she ate her new serving of goldfish and green beans.

Moral?

You tell me in the comments.

My First Easter in Edmonds

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I set my GPS to Marina Beach. It’s about 10 minutes away from my studio apartment. I didn’t know what to expect when I got out of my car and started following signs to the park.

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The first thing I saw was boats. Boats, boats, and more boats.

All set in the emerald waters of the harbor, waiting for their captains to set sail.

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Being from the CA Bay Area, boats weren’t that new or exciting. It wasn’t until I crossed the bridge over to the Marina that I was blow away by the view.

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Blue grey skies with light steaming down between the gaps in the clouds, sea salt catching in the breeze, sea fowl chattering to themselves.

The feeling that swelled in me was an epiphany mixed with awe.

And the disappointment of not having my notebook with me on this Easter Sunday.

So, like a true Millennial, I decided to blog about this experience.

Today, I feel like I have finally come home to the Pacific Northwest.

Life after the MFA (5 months after graduation)

MFA ring

It has been 4 months since I graduated from San Francisco State University. The student life for me has ended but the student within me lives on in what is commonly known as the “real world.” The “real world” classrooms are not as comfortable to me as the ones I lived in for 8 years of my college/university life. But, I believe that this is a good thing. I’ve craved a challenge that I could tackle and the biggest challenge I am facing right now is one I have been hiding from within the comfort of the classroom:

The Balancing Act.

What is the Balancing Act? Well, we learn about it early on in school, when we first encounter time management. I’ve always applied time management to academics, eating, sleeping, hygiene, family and friends. It was very linear and set. The key word there was SET. Little changed once the semester started and the books were bought. Nowadays, everything and anything can change with very little if any warning.

Workplace schedules change daily, health care changes, meetings change, settings change. In the past 4 months, I’ve been to San Diego, Germany, East Bay, North Bay, South Bay and if there was a West Bay I would probably been there too but I’m up against the Ocean where I live. The constant uncertainty can be exhausting and very time consuming.

Thankfully, I believe I am starting to get the hang of it (knock on wood). I understand now what my professors at State were trying to warn me and my fellow writers. Once outside the MFA, writing feels like a luxury that one cannot afford.

Yet, as a writer I cannot afford to stop writing.

I must then return to a sense of balance; the balance between self-care, work, and writing.
Self-care is everything that one has to do to stay functional in the world. Doctors visits, health insurance, rent payments, phone payments, car payments, cleaning your room, buying new clothes, washing clothes, washing dishes, buying groceries, cooking food, talking with loved ones, taking your medications on time, watching a funny show, reading, playing videogames, etc.

Work is what you do to pay the bills. From the time you leave the house to go to work until the time you step out of your work office that time spent working. Applying for work is also work, as all us underemployed or unemployed graduates know.

Writing is what I am doing now while listening to Netflix play in the background. Writing is also reading. So reading books on writing or science or math or dragons, etc go into this category. Notice that reading is also a part of self-care. Reading for your writing life and for your life is a good practice, in my book. It lets you have room for really High literature and really low literature. The kale and the cheeseburger books, respectively.

I hope to get better at the Balancing Act. I’m in the process of learning through trial by error. With any luck, I can reach my center of balance and feel the flow of my writing increase in the next month.

Thanks for reading!

Peace, love, and pancakes!

Finals Week…some musings

Yep, it’s that time of the year! When everything becomes due…so many due dates.

But that doesn’t mean the writing has to stop. Writers should be able to write under the harshest conditions! If we didn’t, then there would be no stories from far off places or chaotic news from war torn countries. Be it bullets flying past you or a research paper due in a week, a writer must be able to write.

I’m, by no means, perfect. There are days I don’t write because other things seem to call for my attention louder than the voice that says “where’s that new poem.” Somehow, either by sheer luck or perseverance or both, I was able to meet my year goal of 52 poems. In fact, I went past the mark and wrote 53 poems. These range from unpolished first drafts and published pieces. The most recent published piece appears in the SFSU’s literary magazine, Transfer #104. I wrote it back in June and it was the 25th poem drafted this year. I edited it about 5 times total. There’s something amazing about having drafted 53 poems in a year. I never thought I could write so much in a year. Some I may never revise and others I feel still hold a spark of that special something that made me sit down and write  the first time around.

I began the journey of a year in poetry to prove to myself that I am serious about writing, that poetry is not some hobby but an integral part of myself. I had feared that if I ever was out of a classroom setting, I may never write regularly. The strange thing that happened this year was that I wrote less regularly after August than I did during the semester off. Moreover, the poems I wrote during that time off were some of my proudest moments. I don’t know what that means for my practice, but I do know that I need not fear my craft deteriorating after I live my program at State. Poetry can’t get rid of me and I can’t get rid of it.

As for prose, I have begun a long journey discovery through my struggles with this current novel draft. By the end of November, I had 10, 282 words, less than 40,000 shy of 50,000 words. Yet, I haven’t stopped writing it. The main character, Bastion, won’t stop nagging me to finish his story. Currently he is stuck in a men’s restroom with 2 High Elves, a wood elf, a half-giant, and a humanoid lightning bird…oh and Bastion’s a dragon and doesn’t know it yet because he is a mentally ill wuss.

Truth be told, I’m not very confident in prose writing unless its nonfiction (not about me, per se, but about a subject or a research article, etc), so this is a big challenge I’ve undertaken.

It’s been both struggling and entertaining. It’s as if I am watching my daydreams take form in words.

Currently, the plan is to continue writing the first draft without editing until I reach what I believe to be the end. Then I’m setting it aside, for a month or so, and then going back with a red pen and a pot of strong coffee.

With any luck, Bastion will be my very first novel. Here’s to completed another huge project!