Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Still I Rise

From the one and only Maya Angelou:

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

Damn, Maya.
Say it again.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Catching the Scent

Hafiz says, "I have become a foreigner to every world except that one in which there is only You and me."

I'm beyond grateful to have Jeremy by my side through this transition from one culture to the next. He is my home. And there's no place I'd rather be.

I'm amazed on a daily basis--all the ways in which Korea and America are so different. There are so many "normal" parts of my life as an American that just do not exist in Korea, like:

-Diversity. Not real big in Korea compared to the States. Quite homogenous.

-Big, diesel trucks that people drive even if they are hauling nothing at all. So many in Korea are on board with conservation. We seem to be the only ones in the world still arguing about climate change.

-Guns. People carrying them. And signs prohibiting people from bringing them into an establishment. The first one I saw in Nashville, I thought it was a joke. And then, I remembered where I was.Tr

-Boats/campers/toys. Where would one store such a thing? No one has a garage.

-Garages and tools. Most of the population lives in apartments. So why would one own a hammer or a tool belt. Most of the work is done my landlords and mechanics.

-Hobby Lobby or any kind of big, craft store. Oh, how I've missed you!


-Mexican food. Taco Bell. Avocado. Cilantro.

-Root beer. Mmmm.

-Decaf coffee! Yay for coffee after 3pm! For some reason, they just didn't have any that we could find in Korea.

-Bibimbap (a traditional Korean food) for $18 where it normally costs $4 in Korea!

-Cleavage. Just not a thing. I saw more cleavage in our first week in America, than I saw in two years in Korea.

-Leggings. In America, some women wear leggings as pants (that's a whole 'nother blog that I will never write), but Korean women wear them with a built-in, attached skirt thingy.

-Shirtless runners. We are quite a risqué bunch by comparison.

-PDA. A couple snuggling on a blanket in the park might as well be sex to me now. Kidding, not kidding.

-Obesity. Just not a prevalent thing in Korea.

-"Bless you", what a strange thing we say when someone sneezes. But I have to admit, when I'd sneeze in Korea, I'd kind of wait for it. Wait for it...Now Jeremy and I say, "Go to hell!"

Lately, I've been reading Barbara Kingsolver's The Poisonwood Bible
and this quote made a lot of sense to me:

"Once every few years, even now, I catch the scent of Africa. 
It makes me want to keen, sing, clap up thunder, lie down at the 
foot of a tree and let the worms take whatever of me 
they can still use.

I find it impossible to bear.

Ripe fruits, acrid sweat, urine, flowers, dark spices, and other 
things I've never even seen--I can't say what goes into the composition, 
or why it rises up to confront me as I round some corner hastily, 
unsuspecting. It has found me here on this island, in our little town, 
in a back alley where sleek boys smoke in a stairwell amidst the day's 
uncollected refuse. A few years back, it found me on the Gulf Coast 
of Mississippi, where I'd returned for a family funeral: Africa rose up 
to seize me as I walked on a pier past a huddle of turtle-headed 
old fishermen, their bait buckets set around them like a banquet. 
Once I merely walked out of the library in Atlanta and there it was, 
that scent knocking me down, for no reason I can understand. 
The sensation rises up from inside me and I know you're still here, 
holding sway. You've played some trick on the dividing of my cells 
so my body can never be free of the small parts of Africa it 
consumed. Africa, where one of my children remains in the 
dank red earth. It's the scent of accusation. 
It seems I only know myself, anymore, 
by your attendance in my soul."

Monday, December 7, 2015

There Will Come a Day

There will come a day
when I wake up alone in our bed.
When I reach across the sheets
for your warm, welcome arms
and you won't be there.
Ever again.

There will come a day
when I wander this world alone.
When I pass the hours
expecting your call
or a text
or something
and it will never come.
Ever again.

There will come a day
when I think I see your face.
When I look around a crowded room
and anticipate your admiring eyes
but I won't see them.
Ever again.

And thoughts like this can keep me up at night.
As if dreading that inevitable day
will protect me somehow.
But it won't. 
It will only hold me hostage.
Thoughts like this can ravage my heart right open,
as if it's really happening.
Right now.

But it's not.
That day is not today.

Today, I'm laying beside you.
Today, I'm complaining about the lump in this bed.
And you're looking across the pillow at me
with so much fondness,
I'm afraid my heart just might
leap out of my chest and attempt
to join up with yours.

Today, I'm in love and all is well.
And all is well.

Hafiz says,

"Nothing can shatter this love.
For even if you took another

into your arms, the truth is,
my sweetheart, you would






Thursday, December 3, 2015

A Prayer for San Bernadino

Fourteen people didn't wake up this morning.
They didn't kiss their spouses.
They didn't go to work.
They didn't show up to their yoga class or their lunch date.
We've experienced another tremendous loss.

I don't know why this happens.
I don't know if it's guns or mental health.
And the fact, that we always come back to bickering about one of two things, makes me feel like we aren't trying hard enough. Maybe we are so shell-shocked (or so jaded) that we've lost our ability to creatively look for solutions.
And maybe we look for someone to blame because we don't know how to feel this kind of grief.
We're just hurting too much.

After a different American tragedy a few years ago, my sister said, "I just keep reminding myself that we've never been at this exact place in human history ever before. We don't know what we're doing. We're just doing our best."

And so, while I have no answers.
No critique.
No magic words.

I do have a prayer--a petition, a plea--that we can still find each other in our sadness. Because we belong to each other. We are all we've got.

I pray that we hold onto hope. Even when it seems impossible.

I pray for the families that have experienced such a terrible and abrupt loss.

I pray that in misdiagnosing our grief as anger we don't lash out at others.

I pray that we give ourselves time to properly grieve these mass shootings that have become commonplace in our country more than any other place on Earth.

I pray that we are mindful with our words and give each other grace in our quick-witted opinions and rant-worthy posts online.

I pray the lyrics to one of my favorite songs, called "Mercy" by Crystal Davy:

"God of all the
big and small things
Hear our cry for mercy.

Darkness, sorrow
flee before you
Hear our cry for mercy.

Love of Heaven,
here incarnate
Can the dust sing out Your praise?

Hear our cry for mercy.
Hear our cry for mercy.
Hear our cry for mercy.

You have given
all we've needed
You put strength into our bones.

You have taken,
You have weakened,
You made hunger grip our souls.

Father, Father
daily bread give,
You'd not offer us a stone
You'd not offer us a stone.

Hear our cry for mercy.
Hear our cry for mercy."

Sometimes all you can do is fall down under the weight of it all.
To feel it.
Not try to explain it or make it better.
Just feel it.
We can't carry all of these deaths.
But perhaps the greatest honor we can pay to those who have lost their lives is to grieve with them.
To grieve for them.

from CNN.com