Books! Books! Books! Titles #31-50 (kind of)

So, I made it, kind of.

I read and wrote annotations for 50 books this year. This is far more than I've ever read in a calendar year (more than double) and it felt great to read so many titles I've been long-meaning to read. But in all honesty, I don't know if 50 is the right number for me. I think 35 or 40 might be a more honest goal so that I can enjoy more of the books and not rush through so many. But I got myself to 50 by counting a few books I false-started or abandoned and by counting 10 of the many children's books I've read over and over and over to Kiara this year.

So, here they are, the last 20 titles and annotations. I'll probably write another post of my favorites of the year, and here is a link to my Goodreads page with all of the books I read this year...

Previous Books! Books! Books! posts:

Titles #1-10 Heavy on the AVI titles with some fiction, nonfiction and graphic novels.

Titles #11-20 My most eclectic mix.

Titles #21-30 Excavation, Shakespeare, and a novel in verse.

Stop Pretending: What Happened When My Big Sister Went Crazy by Sonia Sones  This was my model novel for National Novel Writing Month so I reread it as I was drafting a memoir in verse of my own. Still good the second time around particularly the moments of memory that reveal relationships from before and how they shift through this family crisis.
Where She Went by Gayle Foreman  This continuation of the story from If I Stay takes on a different POV, the one of the rock star boyfriend. I liked the unfolding of the story, the playing with time that Foreman also utilized in If I Stay. I found myself once again tearing up toward the end so I guess it works!

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart This beautifully rendered book had me plowing through pages, but the shallow three generations left me wondering if I really cared what would happen to them. Is it a flaw in the writing or in the actual characters themselves? I’m not sure, but the tragedy of reality and the silences surrounding truth are themes I’m quite familiar so it kept me turning the pages.

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson This biography in verse follows Woodson’s early childhood from Ohio, through South Carolina, and ends up in Brooklyn. My favorite parts were seeing how she sizes herself up in comparison to her siblings and grew into an identity as a writer. It felt similar to A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, but updated for today’s young reader.

Griffin & Sabine by Nick Bantock This epistolary of the correspondence between two artists plays with reality and fantasy, sanity and insanity. The illustrations help the story unfold as well. A beautiful story with an ambiguous ending.

Love Poems by Nikki Giovanni Amazing how timely Giovanni’s poems remain so many years later. This winter, with widespread protests of police brutality and #blacklivesmatter, these poems remind me how constant these struggles have been in the black community. And food! Her poems make me hungry.

The Arrival by Shaun Tan This graphic novel reveals migration and immigration stories in ways that are both simplistic and infinitely complex. There is such fear and loss in these narratives and then there are glimmers of hands opening up new worlds and new beginnings.

Lost and Found by Shaun Tan Another graphic novel, this telling three tales, “The Red Tree,” “The Lost Thing,” and “The Rabbits.” I loved the use of text in this one in contrast to the wordlessness in The Arrival. The images drive the narrative and each story feels like an installation in a Shaun Tan exhibit. I could get lost in his images for hours if I let myself.

Abandoned Books or False Starts I intend to finish later…

NW by Zadie Smith Got into the second narrative voice but couldn’t keep momentum…

Landline by Rainbow Rowell Started but wasn’t ready for the story yet…

Tell Me The Truth About Love by W.H. Auden Lost myself in these poems…

Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness by William Styron Ugh. I couldn’t get past the pretentiousness of his voice…

Top Ten Children’s Books Read Repetitively with Kiara (my favorites, not necessarily hers, ones that I didn’t mind reading even after 20 reps.)

1.     The Story of Ferdinand by Leaf Munro A lovely book about a bull who simply wants to sit quietly and smell the flowers. I love that it teaches Kiara that she can be and do what she wants despite what those around her are doing.

2.     Almost An Animal Alphabet by Katie Veggers This is my favorite of the many alphabet books Kiara has in her collection. The animals are unique and the drawings are smart and teach me things (like the differences between the Asian and African elephants). S, N and O are a few of the pages I love in particular.

3.     The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter One of my childhood favorites, I’ve loved reading this with Kiara even if it’s only the first ten pages or so. I love when Kiara yells along with Mr. McGregor: “Stop, Thief!”

4.     The Three Little Cajun Pigs by Berthe Amos I can’t help but read this one with a little hint of a Cajun accent. There is a great cut-out of the big bad alligator, Monsour Cocodrie that huffs and puffs his way through the book and all the way into the gumbo pot.

5.     Bear Snores On By Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman Beautiful illustrations accompany thoughtful rhymes about a bear sleeping through a party in his very own lair.

6.     The Three Little Javelinas by Susan Lowell and Jim Harris This Southwestern take on the three little pigs infuses Spanish vocabulary and features a magical coyote. These hairy little pigs somehow find a way to escape coyote and reveal the myth of coyote’s howl.

7.     Sleep Like a Tiger by Mary Logue and Pamela Zagarenski This beautifully rendered book about a little girl who just isn’t tired and doesn’t want to go to sleep was perfect for Kiara as she transitioned to her big girl bed. I love the unique animals depicted and how the girl mimics their sleeping habits.

8.     Mother Goose by Gyo Fujikawa My mom had this book in the house when I was growing up and she got it for Kiara before she was born. Kiara loves singing “Rock a Bye Baby,” “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” and “Hush little Baby.” The drawings are lovely and Kiara could turn through this books for hours.  

9.     The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore It’s a good thing I had this one memorized from years ago which allows me to recite it quickly with just a glance at the pages. Even though Santa is not Kiara’s favorite, she loved reading this every single night of the holiday season.

10.  Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Suess Kiara fell in love with this book in Lincoln at the Okamoto’s house and caused a major meltdown on our drive back to Los Angeles. I couldn’t decide who was more annoying, Sam I Am or the one who claims to hate green eggs and ham, but love the rhyme and repetition just like Kiara does.


2014 Year In Review

Well, I was feeling pretty ambitious last year when I set the goal to post here once a week. It's what all the successful bloggers say: you have to post quality content regularly.

Last year I was able to do it. I posted over 50 times but most were part of the 52 poems project I was doing.

But I'm not beating myself up about only posting 20 times. It was a tough year full of change and new understandings of family and life and death.

Thanks to all of you for still reading along. I know I haven't been the most reliable, but your readership and feedback has helped me through some tough times this year.

So, here are the top three posts for 2014...

3: It has been a rough year to be an educator. Public education continues to be assaulted by a "reform movement" attempting to discredit and privatize our public schools. It's not all that different than it has been over the past ten years. But this year, with the rollout of national "Common Core" standards and their assessments, I have had to make more concessions than I'm comfortable with. Fortunately, many parents are beginning to voice their concerns over testing and standards. This post about opting out of testing was my third most popular this year. 

2: This post, Summer Stock, captures the time I'll remember most about 2014, even though I hoped fall would help me forget. This post captures the end of the school year, the loss of my mom, and the summer that followed.

1. This year I turned forty and rather than the huge challenge I first considered (a solo run at the Pole, Pedal, Paddle) I set out to celebrate least forty times. Happy birthday to me and a huge thanks to all who helped me ring in #40, and for making it my most-read post this year so I get to feel the birthday love all over again. Forty is fine and fabulous and lots of other f words my baby-brain is currently withholding from me. Here is my top post of the year: Forty is Starting to Look Pretty Amazing...


Four Week Countdown to the Close of 2014

The year is winding down, and it's amazing how much change a year can bring. I set some ambitious resolutions for 2014 and I've checked in with my progress a couple of times, once in April and again in July. I was behind then, but since then, well... in some ways the wheels came off. I still have four weeks left which makes me wonder, how close can I still get to these goals? 
I didn't set a goal for spending 
time with this girl... but we did. 

Writing Goal: Finish high school memoir draft of Notes from a High School Feminist (50,000 words) and revise YA novel: Rice Paper Superheroes. 

Progress: I finished the draft of the high school memoir: 52,000 words, but it still needs of a good deal of revision. I haven't revised Rice Paper Superheroes yet (boooo) but I did draft a new memoir in verse: Waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop (30,000 words) during NaNoWriMo last month.  

Reading Goal: Read and write short annotations for 50 books in the year. 

Progress: Aaaargh! I am stuck on number 32 which means I'd need to finish a book every couple of days in order to finish in time. Realistically, I think I could still get to 40. Wish me luck.  

Publishing Goal: Submit work at least once a month and publish one blog post per week. 

Progress: I have failed tremendously here. I've only published 24 blogs (I think this is 25...) and I haven't sent out work regularly. I think I might need to set a rule for myself that I can't work on new essays/drafts until I submit something and I should really submit once a week instead of once a month in order to get some momentum. Yes. That's what I'll do for these last four weeks.  

Fitness Goal: Run 500 miles in the year. 

Progress: I changed run to walk once I got pregnant so I'm at 417 right now. 83 miles in 4 weeks is possible...

So, grief played a role in some of my falling behind. Pregnancy played some as well and last time I was pregnant my mind turned to mush as did my muscles. So at least these goals helped that from happening again. And still, I'm close and we'll see just how much I can get done in these last four weeks of 2014. 


Books! Books! Books! Titles #21-30 for 2014

Ok, so I set out to read 50 books this year which is about 30 more than I've ever read annually before, so I should feel good about getting this far. But I hate being behind! I hate that I'm not on pace to reach my goal! I'm trying not to freak out, though, and I'm still going to try to get as close to 50 as I can.

Here are my next 10 titles. It was a time to finish some series, explore new authors, and fill in some gaps (books I should have read long ago but never did).  The first 10 are here and the #11-20 are here.

21. Excavation by Wendy C. Ortiz 
In the same vein as Lolita, Ortiz explores how her world shifts when her middle school English teacher initiates a relationship with her. With occasional notes on her “excavation” as an adult, we get a break from the intense world of a teenager struggling to make sense of a life where the adults let her down. A wonderful reminder of how nonfiction can help us make sense of complex colors that shade our relationships.  

22. Insurgent by Veronica Roth 
The second book in the Divergent series picks up right where the first book ended. Tris must quickly come to terms with her own decisions and the loss of her parents. The plot moves quickly and despite some decisions and lies from Tris, the payoff at the end was worth it. 

23. Allegiant by Veronica Roth 
The third book in the Divergent series suffered from some slow pacing but I was glad I made it to the end. Although surprised by the denouement, it makes sense. So much better than the way The Hunger Games ends.

24. Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai 
This novel is verse is a book I’ll be teaching for the Engage NY Common Core lessons. Love the book. It leaves much unsaid and captures just how little I know about the Vietnam War from the Vietnamese perspective. It’s a beautiful refugee story of escape, family, and home. 

25. if i stay by Gayle Foreman 
Read this because one of my students was reading it for her summer assignment and a huge billboard went up nearby for the movie, so, why not. The hospital scenes left me wrecked, especially toward the end when her grandfather lets her go and then again when she finally decides (spoiler alert) to stay.

26. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley 
A dystopian novel set in a civilized London where thought or discontent is no longer a necessary part of life. Sex is entertainment and real connections to others is an unnecessary inconvenience. This world is set in contrast to New Mexico, where an indigenous culture exists. A savage and his mother who return to London to take in this brave new world. Parts of this were tough to get through, but I’m glad I read it to inform the modern dystopian lit I’ve read recently.

27. Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare 
I hadn’t read this comedy before and since our school is producing it this spring and our students will all be reading it, we took 75 students to see a free production in Griffith Park. A quick tutorial from a couple of colleagues, seeing the performance, and then reading it gave me strong sense of Shakespeare’s  take on the ridiculous constructs of love and gender.

28. The Tempest by William Shakespeare 
Hazel hosted a reading of this on a lovely late summer evening. I played Ariel and performed Shakespeare for the first time. It was good fun and this final work by Shakespeare still holds some of the most amazing language and story-telling. The imperialist messages still hold true 500 years later.

29. A Midsummer Night’s Dream William Shakespeare 
So after my little Shakespeare stint, I realized I hadn’t logged Midsummer which I taught and saw performed at school last winter. I need books and this counts. It’s definitely one of my favorite Shakespeare comedies and “Though she is little, she is fierce” are words to live by even though this cat-fight is over a stupid boy. 

30. The Giver by Lois Lowry I’ve been urged to read this by a former colleague for years and just never got to it. Another dystopian tale, this world is one without memory or pain. The idea of one person chosen to receive all of the world’s pain is intriguing and I’m not sure what I think of the ending. The idea of a world of sameness will haunt me for a while and I'll probably read more in this series. 

One 20 more titles to go...


First Day 2014

Today is the first day of school. I usually repost this blog with the advice my wonderful principal, Charlotte Lurchenmuller gave me years ago. I will still share it, but this year I have a lot of other thoughts on my mind.

I want to approach the year with optimism, so I'm thinking of my mom and even though this is the first time I won't share my first day of school with her, I want to recall all of the first days she made special while I was growing up.

There is an election today, to fill the vacated board seat of Marguerite LaMotte, a true advocate for students and teachers who passed late last year. I will ignore the ugly campaign of the reform movement's candidate and urge all those District 1 residents to cast ballots for Dr. George McKenna.

My school has become a charter, an LAUSD affiliated charter so not an evil corporate charter, but still.... and Emerson is in the midst of a huge construction project. This is bringing Supt. Deasy and Board Member Zimmer and the press to our campus this morning. I will ignore that dozens of workers have been on campus to make it presentable, not for our students, but for the superintendent. I will focus on my students and make it about their first day.

I will acknowledge that an unarmed eighteen-year-old Mike Brown was gunned down in Ferguson, MO a week before he should have started college. Protesters of such violence have been subject to rubber bullets and tear gas from the same police they protest. This is the reality my students face. They are subject to the discrimination of poverty and racism everyday, but today I will welcome them and hope to provide them with the skills and knowledge to fight such injustice.

I will mourn the loss of Robin Williams whose "Nanu nanu" were two of my brother's first words when he came to us from Korea. I will remember that I do not know the battles those around me face. I will try to understand everyone's potential struggle and greet them with kindness.

I'm thinking of all of my students, current and former, and I'm thinking of the teachers heading out there this morning. Have a great first day of school.


Summer Stock

Kiara contemplates summer and fall. 
Summer begins that first week of June with a farewell.

The school year comes to an abrupt end when a phone call from my sister indicates things are not going well. I need to get home. I leave my classroom a mess. There is no last day of school, no yearbook signings, no hugs from students. There is no gleeful send-off into summer.

There are ten days in Portland. Every day is trips to the hospital, hours in a critical care unit watching machines that track each heartbeat, each breath.

There are breakfasts with Dad, lunches with my brothers and sister. There are lonely trips for coffee or ice cream with the hipsters of Portland.

There is a positive pregnancy test that feels like some sort of trick life is playing on my forty-year-old body.

Things with Mom get worse, or they just don't get better. We must think about what Mom would want. Then we must advocate for her. There are decisions to make, and every conversation is a challenge. There is prayer and song, tears and silence.

We finally let go, and our family of six is brought to five.

On Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year, we hold Mom's Memorial. There is family and friends, tears and laughter. There are long moments when grief and loss overwhelm. There are
stretches of nothing.

I come home to LA and Mom is there. She is with me when I wake up Kiara in the morning. She is with me every time I sit down to the page. She is with me at the beach and in the car. She is here.

There is rain in LA this summer, but mostly beautiful days of sunshine.

The pregnancy that once felt like a trick has been confirmed and the doctor calls it a miracle. David and I watch this new life squirm on a grainy, black-and-white screen with awe.

I head back to work even though summer still shines strong and will for another couple of months. I will continue to soak in the sun, and breath in the beach air. I will cling to the memory of easy summer days.

I will hold onto summer until fall makes me forget.


Books! Books! Books! Ten more titles for 2014

I'm still behind in my reading, but here are the next ten titles I've finished this year. I sought out more writers of color and allowed myself time to read longer, denser works like Invisible ManAmericanah and A Tale for the Time Being. If you missed my first ten titles you can read about them here.

11. Girl Coming in for a Landing by April Halpern Wayland 

This novel in verse about a young girl coming of age verse is a little slight for me. Isn’t as inspiring as I find some novels in verse to be (Sonya Sones).

12. Educating Esme by Esme Codell 

This memoir of a woman’s first year teaching brought some inspiration, but like most education memoirs, they establish the teacher as an educational savior, the only shining light in a dark system, which is such a simplistic way of looking at this practice. Kind of inspiring, but mostly annoying.

13. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison 

An exhausting, devastating account of a young Black man finding his place in a shifting post civil war, pre-civil rights America. From the battle royal at the opening, through college and the mental hospital, to the northern city where labor and political organizing provide opportunities and devastation, the narrator plods on until we no longer see him.

14. Divergent by Veronica Roth 

I saw the preview for movie based on this book when I went to see The Book Thief and was intrigued. Then all of my students started reading it and insisted I join them. Dystopian YA is fun and it made me wish I’d finished my NaNoWriMo project from a few years back.  

15. Marbles by Ellen Forney 

A friend lent this to me to help me along my 50 book mission and I read it as the Trail Blazers were getting worked in the playoffs. It allowed me to trace through my sister’s journey to a bi-polar diagonsis. The connections between creativity, artistry, and mood disorders hit home with me as did the graphic novel-ness of it which captures in visuals a complex and inexplicable experience. 

16. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie 

This one took me a while, not because it wasn’t engaging, but Adichie’s other book took me about six months to finish, so taking a month for this one isn’t all that bad. I loved the conversations about race and the contemporary feel including the blogs and the way Obama’s candidacy and election did something unique for communities of color. Her modern Nigeria feels so distant from the one I read about in Half of a Yellow Sun and Adichie captures the feeling of belonging and not belonging that immigrants and Americans of color experience. 

17. My Ideal Bookshelf edited by Thessaly La Force, art by Jane Mount Really 

This is more of a coffee table book, a conversation piece, and it’s beautiful but it also has its limits. I kind of hate the pretention of lists like this and James Franco’s list exhibits this perfectly: these are the books that are acceptable as my favorites. So, I found connection with some of the lists and annoyance with others and plan to put together a list of my own every year to show how my tastes and pov change over time. 

18. The Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward 

I read this on board my flight to Portland as the complications with Mom’s surgery piled up. These stories of young men in Mississippi who find death too young brought me comfort during a time of intense uncertainty. Ward’s ability to capture place and character leave me in awe. She does fiction (Salvage the Bones) and nonfiction equally well.

19. A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki 

Loved this book which alternated povs between the diary of a Japanese girl who spent a good deal of time in the US, and a third person close of Ruth. She masterfully unfolds the journeys of both characters and works in all kinds of science and philosophy. It actually made me want to meditate, and study Japanese again. 

20. The Accidental Asian by Eric Liu 

I enjoyed the first two essays in these Notes from a Native Speaker, and maybe if I was Nissei, second generation, I would have related more, or if I was a guy. His perspective is definitely one of male power (as a speech writer for Clinton he definitely occupies influential spaces) but by his last few essays on New Jews and Blood Ties I’d grown weary of his perspective and found fault in some of his strategies.

I'm almost halfway to 50 and hope to have my next ten titles up at the start of September. 


Mid Year Report

Ok, I am clearly behind on my blog posts, but here's where I stand on my yearly goals so far:

I started the year with an ambitious set of goals and the year is halfway over! How am I doing?

Writing: Finish high school memoir draft (50,000 words) and revise YA novel: Rice Paper Superheroes.

Progress: Still drafting the high school memoir: 37,500 words. I'm using July as a Camp NaNoWriMo to get this done. Then I'll I need to finish drafting Rice Paper Superheroes.

Reading: Read and write short annotations for 50 books in the year.

Progress: I'm still behind. I have 19 finished and a bunch of these were long, non-YA titles so I'm ok with being a little behind. Americanah and A Tale for the Time Being were worth the extra weeks I took to read them. I still have a solid month of summer to catch up. That means 10 books this month which is ambitious, but doable.

Publishing: Submit work at least once a month and publish one blog post per week.

Progress: I suck at submitting. I don't know what I need to do to get going on this. Any suggestions? As for blog posts this is number 19 so I'm just a little behind.

Fitness: Run 500 miles in the year.

Progress: Yes! I'm ahead on this one. Granted, I'm walking most of these, but still I'm getting the miles in with 261 miles through June.

All of the goals are still within reach. Just have to keep putting in work!


Leaving it all behind

I'm a creature of habit. I love schedules and routines.
I thrive in them.
Maybe it's all of those years growing up Catholic: the repetition of mass: the sitting, kneeling, and standing, the prayers that became a chant, a childhood meditation.

Whatever the reason, it's tough for me to toss my everyday away.
Sometimes that is what life requires.
Sometimes you have to drop everything, buy a plane ticket, and leave it all behind.
Even when you want to stay, you have to leave.

I board my flight and the weightlessness makes me nauseous.
I wish I could be at school to end another year,
to share in the long goodbyes and the ceremony of graduation.
The Pomp and Circumstance.
The speeches and the reading of names.
The hugs and proud families and photos snapped
of girls dressed like young women and boys dressed like young men.
The huge smiles stuck on sweaty faces and the smear of makeup from a sloppy hug.

This year I'll miss all of it.

I am a creature of habit. I love schedules and routines,
but this year will end with my heart frayed by this awkward farewell.


Ten Things I Hope My Students Will Remember

This time of year is always a challenge for me. After all the hours I've spent working with my students, the end is suddenly upon us. I love my job, but what’s hard for me as a writer is only getting to read the opening chapters of my students’ stories. It’s like reading the Amazon preview but I can’t buy the whole book yet. We reach the end of the year together, but they are at the beginning of high school and the beginning of their young lives. They are like the opening week of NaNoWriMo, the faltering start to poems at the beginning of NaPoWriMo, the first few lines and scenes in a book. They are full of promise and expectation.

It’s exhilarating to be young. The future is an exciting and frightening unknown. My students have not yet written what will come, but they are finding their legs in this world and walking along a path unique to them. As they head off into a world that can be both beautiful and tragic, I want them to remember so much. But I know they can hardly remember to take their backpacks on their way out the door, so I better write these things down. Here are 10 things I hope my eighth graders will remember.

1) Keep writing. Maybe it’s a journal, or the beginning of a novel each November, or a few poems when you feel like the world doesn’t understand you. Maybe it’s a blog or a tumblr or tweets, but keep writing. You have a story to tell and the world needs more stories like yours. Your story might just save someone. Writing your story might save you.

2) Keep reading. Ok, for some of you this may be start reading, but hopefully you will read and read often. I hope you will read to learn, to work your brain, and to escape. Read new books and reread favorites. Read books that challenge your thinking and make you see the world differently. Talk with friends about books. Set goals for your reading and plan what books you want to read. Then, keep a list of the books you’ve read so you can say, yes, I did that.

3) Keep questioning. Think critically but not cynically. Think about the validity of your sources whether that source be an author, a teacher, a professor, a friend, a girl/boyfriend. Try to understand where people are coming from, but also decide if you agree with them. Use your critical thinking skills and establish your own independent thoughts.

4) Stay organized. Write down homework and projects and assignments every. single. day.  Clean out your binder, your backpack, your desk, your room, your closet and your mind. Keep the things you really need, but my rule is: if I haven’t used it or worn it in the past two years, it’s gone. Also, leave some space for quiet in your life so you can hear your thoughts. Close your eyes to the screens and sounds of the world and just be.

5) Keep believing. Believe in yourself and your abilities. Believe that if you work hard, you can do anything. Believe in the best version of who you are and strive for competitive greatness which Coach Wooden describes as “performing at your best when your best is required. Your best is required each day.”

6) Keep following your dreams. It is brave to hold on to the dreams of your childhood, but hold on to your dreams and make plans to get you there. If your dream is to make it to the NBA, do something every single day to help you get there. If your dream is to go to UCLA, make a plan to help you get there which might mean extra study sessions, finding a tutor or sacrificing something fun to get that school project done. Find people who can help you and continue to pursue your dream.

7) Be resilient. The world is going to tell you “No.” “You can’t.” People will doubt you and question your commitment and desire. Sometimes even those who support you will not understand or know how to help. Don’t give up. Keep pushing and pressing for what you want until life says, “Yes.”

8) Work hard. Coach Wooden says, “There is no substitute for hard work. None. Worthwhile things come only from hard work.” Some things come easier for some people. When things look easy for others, it’s often because they have spent hours working to make it appear easy. Life is not easy. Take pride in putting in work.

9) Find what you love to do and do it. Pursue it with enthusiasm and joy. 

10) Be kind to yourself. Forgive yourself when you make mistakes. Learn from them and keep moving forward. Be kind to those around you. Don’t judge others too harshly because if the struggle is real, everyone is in it. Be kind. 


Happy Mother's Day, Mom!

A poem for you, Mom, on Mother’s Day 2014
after Sandra Cisneros’ “Abuelito Who”

Mom who is far away
and wants me to call everyday
who is pain and worry and naps at noon
whose hair has gone gray
who tells me visit soon
who moves furniture around the room
who is hungry
is chocolate cake
is hamburger and fries
is full of sighs
who tells me never lie
who says question what you believe
who will never, ever leave.