Spells

1.19.2017

Some songs remind me how much I love love. They cast their spells and the trance begins.

I dare you not to float.












An Ancient Love Letter

1.10.2017



An Ancient Love Letter
by: Tish Arana



Yesterday I was sugar tobacco cotton and gold

Still I saved breast milk for my own child, a move they called bold

I was the woman who learned letters by the light of the moon 

I was the man dancing, training via secret fight tune

I chose to love and jumped brooms; embraced words as our rings 

And with that same honest love drowned my precious offspring

I buried both hammer and hair pin simply to mess with their days

And put oleander laced tea on missus’ morning food trays

I ran through the night; found my freedoms in tracks 

I escaped from the monsters who grew roots on my back

I gathered my stories; swallowed all of it whole

Let it seep in my blood, absorbed better than coal

Asked Oya to protect it, to bind the magic to bone

For a new generation to remember and own

It took all of my lives, all the grit all the fight

To bind the spell, let new magic take flight

So now my sweet children you must remember my gift

You must remember each struggle that I carefully stitched

The stories in your veins are a roadmap to hope

Stories that will help you do more than just sit by and cope

You resist in your own way but you resist all the same

You remember that no one can take your damn name

Life is not easy. And there are dark days ahead

But like all the mothers have told you a closed mouth don’t get fed

Read. Speak up. Hide hammers and fight

Show them who you are; show them your darkness and your light.  

Centered

1.05.2017

I grew in Texas. I'm Texan grown.

I am programmed to recite isms such as "The stars at night are big and bright deep in the heart of Texas" as well as phrases like "Everything's bigger and better in Texas."

Texas enthusiasts (aka teachers) are good at their jobs.

Texas was life as a kid. It was my everything. I remember the day I learned Texas wasn't our country. You read that correctly. As a child, I literally thought we lived in the country of Texas. California was on the west side of Texas... you get the drift.

I always chalked up my crazy Texan thoughts to Texan influence, but then I watched the below interview with the beloved Zadie Smith and now I'm thinking it's not so much a Texas thing. (Although they still could make a case.)

I love the idea of children centering...creating the boundaries of their worlds...creating geographic cushions of comfort. Thought I'd share the warm and fuzzies. I'm on the wait list at my library to read NW so I'm in Zadie mode right now.


Babe Ruth Moments

12.29.2016


Here goes my Babe Ruth moment for 2017. (Explanatory comma moment: when you, like Babe Ruth, point to the sky and alert the Universe that you're about to score a home run and then you, indeed, score the dang home run.)

So, yeah,  2017 this is what I have planned for you:

You're gonna work with me and the Universe and together we're gonna book 20 commercials. I've already got one down for 2017. We can do this.

You're also gonna find me some beautiful magical story and I will become the actor/story teller for said magical story. It shall be Moonlight, Atlanta, Insecure, Hidden Figures, Stranger Things, The Get Down, Queen Sugar, This is Us and Chewing Gum all rolled into one unicorn-like film/show and it shall be magnificent.

I shall have my *Whoopi moment. 2017, I have plans for you.


*A Whoopi moment...like in How Stella Got Her Groove Back when she stands and faces the ocean and says "God's here."  or one of the million moments from Color Purple or Ghost... You feel me?

 





Ain't I A Woman?

12.23.2016

Why am I JUST now reading Angela Davis' work? I took a slew of women's studies classes in school. Why was this woman not once mentioned?

I'm gonna remain salty with KU on that one.

I'm in the middle of Women, Race & Class and I swear my head is about to explode with all of this amazingness.

Let me be clear: This is a classic academic textbook read. Ms. Davis came to school. So being that I'm just now getting back into reading...and have been tiptoeing back in with captivating nonfiction to keep the momentum going... you might question my choice, but only if you've never read one of her books. Or if you weren't aware that reading is the only way we're going to solve this hot mess we've found ourselves in called The United States of We're Screwed For a While.

This shit is giving me LYFE. (Blue peg. Starting college first.)

I know basic ish about Sojourner Truth (like she was a feminist...that's it.)




Davis devotes pages to Truth's triumphs at the first National Convention on Women's Rights. She single-handedly rescued the Akron women's meeting from the bullshit hostile men (read: the original trolls.)

The men used a tired argument that it was ridiculous for women to desire the vote since they couldn't "even walk over a puddle or get into a carriage without the help of a man." and that's when Sojourner Truth hurt 'em.

She reminded them no one had ever helped her over a puddle or helped her out of a carriage. Then she asked a question that caught fire: "And ain't I a woman?"

"I have ploughed, and planted, and gathered into barns and no man could head me! And ain't I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man--when I could get it--and bear the lash as well! And ain't I a woman? I have borne thirteen children and seen them most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain't I a woman?"

The men were shook and desperately reached in their trusty tool belt of misogyny  and pulled some Bible bull out. She came with the best answers that frankly we should be memeing the hell out, y'all:

"Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with him."



Then they mentioned the whole Eve committed that horrible sin bull spit and she came back with, "If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to get it right side up again! And now they are asking to do it, the men better let them."

Ladies and gentlemen, I have found my "new" shero! I need a shirt damn it. Plaster Ain't I a Woman on it in bold letters.  (Yes, damn it. I know I'm late to the damn party, but you don't know what you don't know. I'm patting myself on the back for finding a list in the first place.)






December: Brain Farts Return

12.16.2016


December 15th

I was supposed to finish writing my pilot on December 15th. I haven't touched the thing in weeks (maybe months...)

I've been exhausted, but for good things. I've been working a lot. I've been auditioning a lot. I managed to shout to the universe I wanted to book three commercials before the end of the year and this week I booked my third one.

There's something very surreal about actually getting what you wish for. I've never pulled off a Babe Ruth before. I've never pointed my bat to left field and actually hit a homer out of the park. I'm a tiny bit scared...a tiny bit superstitious and paranoid, but also extremely thankful and proud AF.

The amount of energy these auditions take...the driving and juggling of schedules and nights I miss seeing my kid. The fruits of my labor are magically delicious.

So I'm still on page 11 of my pilot. I have moments where my thoughts drift to the women I've created and I frantically grab for my phone to record the thoughts I know will fade just as fast as they came if I don't speak them aloud. Soon I'll have a quiet night and I'll compile all the random notes, the recordings and the emails I've sent to myself and finish it.

New deadline in the works.


The Broad

I FINALLY did it. I told Mark to take a day off. I reserved tickets and off we went to be cool art folk.











Revenge Fit For a Frenemy

A friend of mine came over the other night to watch corny holiday films, but we never got to the actual film watching. It's been so long since I've sat down with a friend and just gabbed about things that don't involve a kid. I'm pretty sure I rambled on--a manic spiral of "what the hell?!" but she humored my enthusiasm (read: thirst for adult conversation)  Somehow we got on this one social media public figure and the woman who made her.

Let me explain: Friend no. 1 had an impressive platform. She saw this young cat (we'll call her friend no. 2) receive a smidgeon of celebrity and saw that she was sinking in stupidity so she took her under her wing...started giving her talking points and help her polish up her thoughts. Friend no. 2 blows the hell up and people start gassing no. 2 and forgetting about no. 1.

No. 1 grew super salty and started dragging no. 2  (for the record she still drags her and calls her out and tells her personal business)

When my friend was telling me about this public scandal my heart went out to friend no. 1. I get it. You've created your own distinct voice. You've created something out of nothing and made a name for yourself. You've decided to help and build up those around you only to see those people use your powers to become super duper fabulous and leave you in the dust. It sucks. The worst part...all that ill will she harbors for friend no. 2 is only going to hurt herself. When you hold contempt for someone and you see that person doing well each success ... each moment of good fortune destroys the soul little by little. It's poison.

I've been friend no. 1 before and it wasn't simpatico.

"The best revenge is massive success." --Frank Sinatra


Podcasts to Love

Making Oprah

Woke With Kids

Code Switch



Octavia E. Butler: She Knew and I Shall Now Have to Call Her Moon Child

11.29.2016



This is basically how I rolled while reading Octavia E. Butler's, Parable of the Sower...

Me: Babe! She predicted everything. EVERYTHING!

(goes back to reading)

Me: Babe! EVERYTHING! 

For the record, that man has never been screamed at so much. Okay, he's never been screamed at that much... while I'm reading a book. 

Can y'all please read Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents? And if you have read it can we please talk about it? I need to talk about this with someone. 

I'm just sitting in all these thoughts on damn global warming, new slavery, water catastrophes, walled communities, illiteracy issues, druggies who burn things and eat people (can we say bath salts?) and I am freaking the hell out. This woman knew too damn much. She wrote this in 1993, y'all. 

Before Mr. Evil Cheetos Chinchilla Head started acting a fool... before the Dakota Access Pipeline and Flint's water crisis...before we started looking at prison labor as slavery 2.0 and folks being elected to positions of power who could do some scary ass shit to our educational system as we know it (google Betsy DeVos and cross yourself.) 

Octavia knew things... She knew. 


This taken from her second book of the series, Parable of the Talents


"Jarret insists on being a throwback to some earlier, 'simpler' time. Now does not suit him. Religious tolerance does not suit him. The current state of the country does not suit him. He wants to take us all back to some magical time when everyone believed in the same God, worshipped him in the same way, and understood that their safety in the universe depended on completing the same religious rituals and stomping anyone who was different...

...Jarret's people have been known to beat or drive out Unitarians, for goodness' sake. Jarret condemns the burnings, but does so in such mild language that his people are free to hear what they want to hear. As for the beating, the tarring and feathering, and the destruction of 'heathen houses of devil-worship,' he has a simple answer: "Join us! Our doors are open to every nationality, every race! Leave your sinful past behind, and become one of us. Help us to make America great again...His opponent  Vice President Edward Jay Smith calls him a demagogue, a rabble-rouser, and a hypocrite."


Y'all... Donald Trump read these books. I know he did. I got chills y'all. Frickin' damn chills. 

So who's read the book? Come on Cletus. Right. This. Minute. Speak up!


I kind of feel like Sebastian from Never Ending Story. I'm just reaching the point where I'm chillin' under a blanket and I'm figuring out the author has been talking to me the entire time.  I see you Octavia. I see you... 




So yeah, if you've been looking for a great book...or you're finally waking up and just now realizing our world is stupid, jacked up (welcome, new woke folk) and you're thirsty for some new perspectives...this is the book for you!

It features a black feminist heroine (who you most certainly will relate to and want to be like.) She sprinkles legit history amongst a crazy dystopian society. So you get sci fi and historical nuggets. It's the perfect introduction if you're down with finally getting that minor in the POC Experience. 

Consider this book club hour. I'll be waiting. 

Peaceful Exchanges

11.20.2016


If we're talking feelings: I have felt small, insignificant and unheard. I feel lost and powerless. Like many of my friends and family I've been thirsty AF for information; magic words and magic instructions for how to fix the current chaos. The journey has been maddening. We attempt to start moving in a direction (any direction!) and before the glue has even had time to dry we're berating any and all ideas...they're never good enough...we're ripping the pages out...hitting the delete buttons and we're back in the same.damn.spots. and THAT can mess with your spirit just as intensely as the initial trauma that afflicted you in the first place.

I've been in that space and it hasn't been good so I've been looking for ways I could join the conversation. For someone who has never been super active in the community that was easier said than done. Finding a conversation outside of facebook took some time, but a conversation I did find (shout out to Kim Smith of Kinesis--a gym, workout center, spirit junkie mecca.)

So on a rainy Sunday afternoon I drove my butt down to Culver City and attended an event Capoeira Batuque put on to honor Zumbi (a Brazilian king who represents black liberation and black consciousness.) The discussion consisted of panelists who gathered for a meaningful discussion on current events, providing tools for peaceful actions and solutions. I just couldn't resist the promise of magic i.e. solutions to all the madness.

I wanted to share some of my notes because I think this conversation was meant to leave that studio's walls. Warning: it's lengthy, but collectively it added so much to the conversation and blew my damn mind so I have to share it all. Trust me it's worth it. Get comfy and dive in.

The Panelists:


  • One man read scripture from the Yoruba Bible about the power of community, gathering, and cooperation. He shared passages which explained the divine energy that resides in our heads as well as the significance of putting ones head to the ground to remove the negative energy that clouds our divine energy (something that many faiths practice.) 

  • A professor from Occidental College who teaches history spoke about her responsibilty as a white woman teaching history. Specifically, her responsibility involving centering people of color appropriately. At one point she mentioned that an important objective of slave masters was to destroy the spirit while preserving the body so she read documented examples of slaves (women specifically) who affirmed their humanity while living in a system bent on destroying it. The women who nursed and fed the babies...The women who dressed the wounds of the beaten...The women who stood in the way of the whip to protect young black boys from being beaten. 

  • An officer attended the meeting as well. He shared local programs the police departments have implemented that teach officers tools for tolerance. He mentioned the coffee with a cop program and stressed the importance of needing the community to know that the cop shootings we all keep hearing about are "mistakes...isolated incidents." 

  • A man who runs programs that advocate and assist foster care youth, children who have been in juvenile detention centers and prisons also attended and shared a heart breaking story of a gifted boy who went to jail. When he was released he was sent to his grandmother's to live, but because of zoning laws that prevented a felon from living there he was kicked out and sent to his aunt's home who happened to be a drug addict. Her apartment was raided. He was there and therefore arrested. He was out of jail for only two weeks before they threw him back in. He encourages us all to locate our local juvenile detention centers and work with them to help these young people.

  • A former mayor and congress woman spoke about needing to see those in the community represented by those who live in the community (read: it's all white men. She is the 5th woman in the history of the city to ever serve as a local official.) She mentioned the quote, "If you're not at the table then, you're on the menu." 

  • Another gentlemen had just returned from filming at Standing Rock for a project Robert Redford is leading.  This Mexican American man quoted Malcolm X, stressing how important our history is. He took it back to Christopher Columbus and the Pope's Doctrine of Discovery that encouraged Christians to go out and take the land of Non-Christians. He spoke about the treaty of 1851 and a Lakota prophecy that warned of a black snake that many believe is the Dakota Pipeline. He mentioned the women who are being shot in the face with pellet guns for protecting their water and how we can starve and destroy the snake by pulling our damn money out of the banks that are feeding it. 

  • The final woman, a white anti-racist activist, made sure to stress that conversations like this demand that her voice be the smallest voice on Black Conscious Day. She spoke to the white audience specifically suggesting they and you (if you're white) use your resources to help. It is not enough to be non-racist. You must be anti-racist. Find other anti-racist white people. Meet! Discuss! Do the work together and learn how to help without triggering people of color because it is not our responsibilty to help you figure it out. 
Once the panelists were all able to speak the moderator opened the floor up for questions. A mental health worker spoke about how society is just now researching trauma. They've learned that the body remembers trauma...we carry it in our DNA. The great grandchildren of Holocaust survivors experience the trauma of a period of time they weren't physically apart of... yet they harbor trauma. 

Another woman shared her story involving the father of her child and how he was locked up for marijuana and came out of prison a completely different and broken man who suffers from PTSD.


They asked us to think about how we can be an activist (and not a slacktivist). I pledge to keep reading and keep sharing what I learn. I also plan to be a conscious parent. It's my start.

My overall thoughts: They achieved magic. They identified roots of the problem and had honest conversations. I learned a lot and that knowledge is power. There's a catch though. This is probably the most pessimistic stance I've ever taken on education, but I believe the more you learn about racism and this broken government and system of ours, the more you realize it's an infinite hole of discovery. You will never stop pulling the scarf out of the magician's hat. You just have to keep pulling...keep learning while honoring and appreciating the progress.

I also learned that if you want to do something you have to study history. (A friend sent me a list of great books if you need suggestions.)

I learned if you have privilege or power you have to speak up for marginalized people. The system can't and won't change without folks on the inside actively dismantling these broken systems.

The white anti-racist woman's words keep popping back up: You're not being a true ally if you're defensive. The gentlemen who just returned from Standing Rock urged people to be proactive and not reactive.

I saw the problems that occur when people forget those nuggets of wisdom. One example: the officer. I appreciated seeing him there and was curious to hear what he would add. He shared some personal stories but overall he was defensive. I left early, but every time someone asked him a question about police brutality all I heard were defensive arguments. I heard scared and hurt people who just wanted him to say "Yes, those cops who are shooting men and women are a problem. We want to fix these horrendous issues just as much as you all want to." Instead he just kept emphasizing that they were mistakes and distancing himself and us from the conversation. (Note: people don't want to hear that people's deaths are reduced to mistakes on the job.  And asking us to do the work of reaching out to police and building trusting relationships fell on deaf ears...at least my ears.)

Listen. Learn. Lose your pride. Don't be defensive. This is what I'm sitting with tonight.
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