Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Deception is the lost art of war

I haven’t finished reading The Art of War. Okay, I only skimmed it like twenty times. But never fully read it. But today I really understood one thing: deception. Deception, as defined by searching Google is a trick or scheme used to get what you want. Deception occurs when you deceive.

If anything, I struggle a lot when not to employ deception. There’s this societal rule that states that when asked “How are you?” one should always reply with something positive. “I’m good.” “I’m great.” “I’m fine.” There usually isn’t much room for a replies that state something like, “I’m not doing good at all. In fact, I feel like if you make any sudden movements I’m going to have a heart attack. Please, don’t even look at me. I might just rattle straight into this wall.”

Even among friends, sometimes there is a limit to all the weary and dreary talk. Sometimes some people just don’t want to hang around with that negativity. They feel immobile to always hearing the same talk. And yes, constant negativity can be draining.

But then. If there is no space to be negative in. If there are no friendships that allow for the discussion of these feelings. What do we really have left?

Deception. Deception is that smile you give to people before you turn around and hide in your sacred place. Deception is the 5-hour energy drink, the shot of espresso, the caffeine fix in the a cup of coffee. Deception is the beer, the wine, the shots of tequila, the salt rim of a margarita. Caffeine, alcohol, sex, money, POWER.

None of those mirrors will get to the true reflection of what is inside of someone. They’re merely the deception, the cover-ups and symptoms to the underlying disease: we can’t be ourselves even to ourselves. An individual can’t face himself or herself. And in turn as individuals, we can’t coexist with other individuals.

I just want to be myself. At the rate things are going and judging by the amount of things I want to accomplish--I can’t be myself. I can only deceive.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Sometimes I remember the kind of person I used to be

I can’t stress this enough: people change. I’ve certainly changed for the better, but sometimes I catch an odd glimpse of what I used to be like in the mirror. For example, today at work I walked into the kitchen and looked over at a cook and blurted:

“My food better be hot.”

Or else.

I barely remember the last time I used the implied Or else with anyone. But that wasn’t the only implied sentence in my apron. I also had the:

Did you expect me to teach you how to do your job?

Or the infamous line, which I reserved for special occasions:

I understand you did XYZ and ABC happened. But what were you supposed to?

Throughout my shift today I developed a new one. It’s one that I don’t think I’ll ever use again, because I don’t like the kind of person I used to be. The newest look:

I’m not here to be on your tail so that you do your job.

I wish work would have gone as smooth as I was told it would be. You know, the schedule read one thing, but life dictated differently. Yet, I take so much pride in the work I do. I really enjoy working in the food and beverage sector for now. I really enjoy seeing the guests enjoy their meal to the fullest.

I do enjoy running back and forth in between my small kitchen and the main kitchen to exchange entrees or bring missing desserts or to go that extra mile for another bottle of red wine when only one person would drink from it. It’s my job, and I do it well. Nothing but a smile and best for the guests. That’s what it takes to be a great employee.

And because I hold high expectations for myself. I’ve held high expectations for those around me. I just have to find a way to hold those expectations without being a total jerk.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Needs of students

Sometimes I think my Sunday School crowd attracts everyone. But mostly, I think it offers a mix of things for different people. It definitely satisfies a different need for everyone. For example, today we acquired four Bibles to add to our repertoire. Instead of reading the passage from the study book I read it from the Bible. It was different.

For one, it’s a version I’m not too familiar with. Second, the print is SO TINY. Third, I really wasn’t sure if changing the class format would work out. Usually I just ask a question that gets discussion going, but this time I didn’t. This last Sunday in April we started with John 10:1-15, and a few extra lines afterward for good luck.

And we had a very powerful discussion or the first 10 minutes of class. Just scripture, no yarn or plastic bags. No talk about new knitting techniques. Nothing else mattered but the scripture. And it’s great, give it a read on Bible Gateway. Bookmark it, stare at, and really ask yourself:

Am I following thieves or am I following Christ?

That’s the question we didn’t get to discuss this Sunday because I had to cut class short because I had to sacrifice my Sunday afternoon to work. I did a lot of reading and every law out there says that if I’m on the schedule I’m obligated to work that day. But why does my work create a wedge in between my church life right now? Why can’t I just live humbly with my God everyday versus just on Sundays?

I ask myself these questions and think about them very much. And because of these questions I decided that my class needs to start with scripture. Because without scripture and without the passion and joy and comfort and warmth we find as a class we can’t continue to create our projects. Scripture satisfies my needs in this Sunday School class.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

I’m so tired a I prayed for a nap

I started drinking coffee again. Everyday, around 9 o’clock with my breakfast. 8 ounces pre-blended coffee with creamer and sugar. Twice I mixed my coffee with almond milk for a total of 8 ounces of coffee and 8 ounces of almond milk making 32 ounces of liquids and effectively not leaving much of an appetite for breakfast.

Not that I had that much of an appetite. I’ve sported a stomach ache all week. Everyday before my shift starts at work I attempt to take a nap. But, I’ve been drinking coffee again so it’s been very hard to sleep at night. Interrupted sleep leads to auto-mode life where smiles are short and every other moment is spent making a cowl. And that leads to stress. And stress leads to minor injuries or overworking of oneself.

Which led to today. I bounced back and forth between clinics, ERs, and phone calls to clinics in the past two days to find someone to reassure me that the pain in my right knee was nothing major. At first, I couldn’t be seen because my insurance, or the specific program it is designated for, doesn’t allow physicians to bill me for care outside of the program. When I finally saw someone for a “band-aid” relief I ended up with a prescription that didn’t help completely. AKA wearing off in the middle of the night and landing me back in square one. Interrupted sleep.

Today. A few hours after lunch. Urgent care room with the trash can overflowing. I closed my eyes after an injection of “fast acting pain relief.” And I prayed over and over again. Nothing fancy, just the Lord’s Prayer. At times a pause would stumble in between the words. Each pause followed by a small question, “what goes next. It’s…”

Quiet.

I had been given 15 minutes to not worry about my knee. To not think about going back to work on Wednesday. To not wonder if my phone will have reception enough to contact my sister. To figure out how I would pay for every last needle and hospital minute.

Just 15 minutes of me and God. And a third of a minute afterward to nap, because my blood pressure was significantly lower than when I first entered the building. Maybe this new medicine is going to work. And maybe the following few weeks will create a change for me in terms of finding a better insurance or a way to find a primary care provider. Soon, I’ll have uninterrupted sleep.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Seven eternal lives

Sometimes I write something that seems too silly or corny. For example:

A love that survives
7 years and counting
Is one that exists through reincarnation
Ever lasting
Ever changing
From one life to the next
Together


I used to get myself into self-repeating relationships. You know, the type where it doesn’t matter the person, but it’s the same pattern. Lifespan of two months, because any longer than that then it wouldn’t be exciting. Because ultimately after two months, nothing really meaningful or long-lasting would develop.

Then there is my one true love. I guess you only find one love that continues to grow like a saga. For some it could become that love that got away. Or for others it could be the love that they live with until they die.

For me, this true love is the love that knows me at all times. Knows what I really mean when I say certain things. My true love knows my likes and dislikes. Knows my strengths and my weaknesses. Through the years, has even known things about me I was never aware of. Yet, as true as this love is, it’s also an impossible love. Tragic love. A love that can never be realized in this day and age.

Better phrased, a love that cannot be realized without first changing everything and abandoning everything that we know of in this time. And I know that I won’t be able to sacrifice everything for this true love. In the same manner, nothing will be sacrificed on my love’s end.

In the end. I will end up sacrificing this true love. Though I know it’s only temporary, I’m sacrificing very valuable time with my family in South Texas. And through all the sacrifices I’m finding important answers that cannot reincarnated. In the end I won’t have everything I want, but in the end and since the day I was born I’ve always been so fortunate. So blessed, and because I have that assurance and gratitude it is an honor and joy to help my world.

And that’s the best eternal life to have.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

The future is uncertain and changing

The minute I decided my work schedule was great and my meal prep was a great beginning success. And the minute I decided to open up to my pastor about my intentions as a publisher and teacher and in some ways a trendsetter..

The minute I began incorporating 20 minutes of extra activity into my mornings before starting my day. That's the minute I accepted the challenge to engage in the creation and production of my next poetry book. The book that exists only as an outline and portfolio in my Google Drive.

The book that I printed over 50 pages of poems written in the past seven years. I circled and crossed out the chosen poems, the poems that would reflect my skill and intuition about the craft. It would be the easiest book to publish, since most of it is already organized and some of it has received acknowledgements through publication.

But that all changed this morning during breakfast right after sunrise service in Urdu. My home church being a multicultural entity, loving and exceedingly talented, of course there is a South Asian community in its fold. Engaged in humanly conversation we talked under the guise of breakfast. And the discussion resulted in the statement that we have one eternal life through Christ as opposed to seven lives through reincarnation. I admitted, "I wish I had seven eternal lives." And took a big spoonful of my breakfast.

The moment I admitted to wanting seven eternal lives I understood what the real challenge in the book is going to be. See I ended up laying in bed after church and lunch and laundry. And I slept. And then the final dream in the sequences of sleep thoughts unfolded. And finally, after 11 years of not existing in the physical world, my childhood home burned down. If in this physical world the grasps of a bulldozer couldn't bring it down, then in the metaphysical world it couldn't go any other way than with the flame of rebirth.

As the fire began within the oven and leaped into the cabinets on the right, spilling onto the floor and to the left over the kitchen sink. We ushered first the children. Screaming to all my siblings, "It's time! It's time to go now!" My voice carrying through all the narrow rooms and broken doors.

Of course I really woke up because I slept right into dinner time. Or because my homie Paul in Acts was being too loud and just no one can get any decent sleep when he starts. Please keep my new book Straight from the Heart in your thoughts as I use the ashes of my childhood home as ink.

Friday, April 7, 2017

I read a poem aloud

I decided to talk to one of the coworkers I had never spoken to since starting work. He always kept to himself, writing during the lunch break. One day I even asked him why he was quiet, but it wasn’t because I wanted to talk with him. I just thought it was polite. But that changed, we talked on a one-to-one level. Just us two in the break room. So I told him about my magazine and that I was a poet. And he told me that he wrote song lyrics.

And I thought it was weird, that two poets could sit with each other and talk words. I can’t tell you the last time I talked to a writer. Weirder thing, I decided to talk to the coworker again. But this time he read to me one of my songs. And I absolutely downplayed the whole writer thing. I sat as if I was hardly moved by the words (which were good, and I said so). I downplayed myself as a writer.

But the words spoke for themselves. I read a poem aloud. I, the writer, made an appearance.

And all the downplaying and all the relaxed talk about writing a literary and art magazine editor became thin air. The air thinned and thinned until I found myself into a human trap. My coworker shared his hardships with his grandmother and I vaguely told him about my hardships with my grandmother. And he spoke of the grandeurs his art has provided for him and lamented at the lack of a partner and Queen. And I became quiet. The candid and pressing discussion opened a pocket door into a world far unimaginable and endless.

The world inside of pain and hurt.

There are two words that I roll my eyes to without thinking: pain and healing. And somehow I have the personality to deflect both at all times. I could be proud sometimes that I conquered my the different obstacles I’ve experienced in my life. But, I wouldn’t say that I’ve healed from the experiences. If anything, the pain and agony of each situation replays itself. It grows and grows and grows, like a volcano that’s constantly evolving and erupting.

For the first time in the whole of my life did I finally express reasons why I closed my first magazine. I told my coworker that being an editor and poet led me to seeing a lot of people going in and out of total despair. That I had seen a lot of people get sucked in and flown out of habits that aren’t so easily medicated or cured. That I just can’t always sit there and help people go down the sharp staircase into their most intimate feelings and experiences for the sake of art. Because I can’t do anything about those feelings and experiences.

So back to the words pain and healing. Two of my hardest challenges as I walk this path as poet and editor and future seminary student. How can I heal myself? How can God heal me? How can I help a writer, artist, or friend go down that staircase and build pocket doors into a world we can’t always deal with?