Getting Settled

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The Devil’s Playground, en route to Pikes Peak.

This weekend my shoes walked on land 14,000 feet into the air and my feet sank into sand dunes that stretched the length of mountains. Living in Colorado has been such a treat so far. I’m learning my way around, I have settled in quite nicely at my new job, and I’ve explored a lot of really neat places.

I live fairly close to Down Town Colorado Springs. It is there I was shown SuperNova, a bar with walls lined by old games like PacMan and Pinball, a breakfast place that has mounds of hashbrowns for pretty cheap (hollaaaa), a bar a few coworkers nicknamed the “Dirty Bird”, and Rasta Pasta, the pasta place with the chillest atmosphere and dankest curry dipping sauce.
Although I live close to downtown, I’m adventuring West more and more towards Old Colorado City and Manitou Springs. Old Colorado City has colorful houses, farmers markets, and fun shops. It also happens to be where the Community Acupuncture Place is that I’ve been going to once and while. If anything, acupuncture allows time for a wonderful nap.
Manitou was a little witches town when it first became. It has kept it’s quirk and feel good vibes present throughout the years. It was there I saw coffin races during Halloween, danced in a park, and swung on oversized swings. Manitou is full of cute shops and fun eateries, including Matte Factor, a somewhat religious (cult) shop that dresses close to the Amish and provides a lot of great tea and sandwiches. Don’t worry, a cult free life is the life for me. A couple of my friends live in Manitou, and it becomes more and more enticing to move there with every trip I make. Someone recently showed me the Manitou Brewery, and even if you are not a fan of beer, the food there is sure to make your hungry belly happy, happy, happy.

My new job at Weikel Elementary has been a learning experience. There is a lot of collaboration, team building, building meetings, staff development, and planning. There is a lot to do, and I’m learning how to do it all.
Last year was a great first year teaching gig. I learned a TON from my coworkers and mentors back in Michigan and I carry all of that with me. This year has a whole new set of challenges. I am please to say that this week was the first week I drove to work and had to drive home in order to get my Post Pass so I could get onto post. Weikel is on Fort Carson Military base, and I have an ID to get on everyday, but my wallet was forgotten at home and I had to make the trip all the way back Down Town so I could go to work. Thankfully, I get to work early enough that this set back did not make me late for the kiddos.
My classes are made up of students who have an IEP and student who do not. This brings a lot of challenges my way when it comes to differentiating lessons and leading a large or group activity. I’ve had to learn better ways of planning, and I’ve had to plan more activities in order to fill every little brain to the utmost possibility. This is when I thank the Paraprofessionals in my room. I’ve been blessed with two individuals who loves to help out and who have the kid’s best interest in mind. I’m still young, and one of the awkward situations I predicted while going through school to become a teacher was that I would be the person directing these other people. Telling these other people what to do and how to do it still gives me the sweats sometimes, but I’ve slowly come into my leadership role within the classroom and I hope to continue the positive learning environment that has been created so far.

Outside of school, I have eaten my way through Colorado Spring. Damn, ya’ll, there are some good eats out in these parts. Besides the food, there are some pretty wonderful sights as well.
I was warned that Autumn here will not be like those in Michigan. There wouldn’t be as much color, fall is a lost season, or that I’ll miss the leaves changing. Some of that holds true, but honestly? These Aspen trees have pleasantly surprised me. The other weekend I went to Mueller State Park and my eyes were gifted with the most gorgeous yellow hues.

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Aspens as far as the eyes can see.

The golden Aspens freckled the Evergreens and made for some delightful looking land.

This weekend, my friend from Michigan came to visit. It gave me a chance to show someone around and it made it obvious to me how many cool things I have actually done since I’ve been out here. There are several parks I’ve been to. There are several trails I’ve climbed, mountains I’ve driven through, and cool camp sites I’ve stayed in.
For example, we drove 14,000 feet up a mountain onto Pikes Peak, which I can see on my drive into work. We stopped along the way to climb around on some big rocks and take in the views.

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14,000 feet up on Pikes Peak, post donut.

Once we got to the top, the gift shop provided us with nice warm donuts and warm (they ran out of ice) soda as well. Not all 14ers have donuts on the top, but I’m sure happy this one did.
The next day we made our way three hours south to the Great Sand Dunes National Park. Now, I know some of you Michigan Folk are going to picture the Sleeping Bear dunes and think, “oh, I’ve been to sand dunes before.” But no, no you have not. Not like these. These sand dunes back up to a mountains and they do not pale in comparison to the Rocky Peaks behind them. They are massive. I’m talking, over one sand dune just to find ten more, kind of huge. People board down them, run down them, crawl up them. I saw a man in his Sunday Best, black slacks, sweater vest with a button up underneath, and a cap running down the dunes. Now, where was he coming from? Did he plan on being there? If so, why so fancy?

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Who Knows How High, Rocky Mountain National Park

The week prior to this week I found myself, in my jeep, kayaks strapped to the top, and a new friend by my side. We headed towards Rocky Mountain National Park and let me tell you, it was SO worth the drive. Blistering winds, cold snowy gusts hit our faces as we drove throughout the park.We found a nice little camp spot, set up our hammocks, and made some campfire mac and cheese. We woke up to drive some more and explore the land around us. There was so much land around us. There is constantly so much land around me here and I absolutely love it.

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Lake Grandby

We did not get a chance to kayak, but we did end up finding some water so we sat and admired the tiny waves for a little while before making our way back to Colorado Springs.

There’s this ability to feel extremely small but wonderfully powerful all at once here. To feel so minuscule yet have this rush of “I’m on top of the world” flowing through your body. I’ve been driven to tears by landscape, shoe shaking from heights, and found myself at a loss of words for my surroundings.

It’s been one heck of a ride here so far. I cannot wait for it to continue.

Oh, and, I’m always accepting visitors!

To My Future Lover,

To my future lover,
Please try to understand where I first blossomed.
Try to see whose womb I was sprung from
And what seed made my roots.

These branches labeled arms will reach for you but often will retreat.
Please notice my hard grasp on my secrecy,
It’s something I have built for me.
Please know my hidden intimacy is a trait that fell from parts of my family tree.

My Father’s particular-ness stacked this trunk together with reason.
I now believe in answers to all responses and resort inward to solve problems.
He set my clock a few minutes fast to avoid the anxious belly that’s created when faced with being late.
Walking into a room that is already settled will never create calmness in me.
My Father and I hardly ever cry for attention but we are desperate to be heard.
He gave me rings of structure and a search for the truth.

During my youth,
My Mother painted me with curiosity.
She tattooed my chest with kindness and taught me to grow as big as I can all while never shadowing someone else’s dreams.
It seems I’ve got this tenderness in my bark…
It’s this spark of empathy that sets fire in my chest when searching for similarities.
I now always try to find similarities.

I’ve bloomed next to Sycamores and been cut down by Evergreens.
I’ve wilted in fields of Dandelions
And felt many different layers of dirt beneath my feet.
My history is Hickory.
My mind is Maple.
If you want to be with me,
You have to grow like me.

Like your roots are firmly planted, but wandering.
Like your branches brush gracefully with others.
Like your trunk is sturdy enough to support some of my fallen leaves if need be.
If you’re going to fall for me,
Please understand how I was produced.
Know how I try my best to use the negativity cut into me and somehow make it easier for those around me to breathe.

I come from a really strong family tree.

Life By The Mountains

For years I have been longing to spend more time in Colorado. I can remember in middle school, visiting with family, being amazed that we drove a little ways up, higher, and were greeted with snow deeper than our knees. That amazed me. How could it be 70+ degrees just a short drive away?

A few years ago, I had one of the best experiences volunteering at Rocky Mountain Village Summer Camp. My time 8,000 feet up inspired me to create, to love differently, and to really admire and respect my surroundings. For the first time that I can remember, I felt completely overwhelmed with my love for such a place. That whole summer was spent smiling, and learning, and searching for another rock to climb.

For many reasons, years after my experience at camp, I still found myself in Michigan. I was finishing school, completing a year long internship, and eventually, accepting my first teaching job in a familiar school district. All these things tied me to the Mitten, but my mind and heart were always floating West. After countless nights and days, I came to the decision that I needed to move. Now, I have such amazing support from everyone I know in Michigan. I have wonderful family and long-lasting friends. It saddened me to think that my soul wanted a little bit more. Maybe there was some guilt there, feeling a tad selfish, but with the announcement of my up-and-leaving, came a flood of congratulations and best-wishes from those I love. In some ways, I know most of them were not surprised by this. I had a hard time keeping my Mountain-Loving a secret.

In April, I accepting a teaching job in Colorado Springs. I had someone willing to live with me. For the first time, my trip to the mountains was not going to be a vacation, but a life change.

I’ve been in Colorado Springs for almost two weeks now. I’ve settled in to a new, super cute house, with an incredibly awesome roommate who I absolutely adore, and I’m starting to get used to these crazy Colorado roads and being able to make U-turns regularly (shout out to all those still making “Michigan Lefts”). Trainings for new teachers are slowly creeping up on my calendar, and I’m met with the reality that I will be setting up a classroom soon in an entirely new school! I’m a little overwhelmed, and I’ve had a few “uh…” moments, but for the most part I’m holding it together. Although my Mom and Dad made the drive out here with me, helped clean, set up, and stocked my house with necessities a bit, I did buy a couch that pulls into a memory foam mattress bed and had it delivered, so I’m encroaching on real “grown-up” territory here!

Unfortunately, many of my days here have been spent laying on the new couch due to a string of weird illnesses my body refuses to release. Fortunately, on the other hand, I’m not leaving Colorado any time soon, so those mountains are sure to be there for me to explore at my leisure! Things are looking up, my health is on the upswing, and my spirits are high as I continue this new adventure. The doors in my new, super cute house are always open for visitors, so if the mountains are calling you, you must come! You can even sleep on my new pull-out couch🙂

house

I do not remember…

I do not remember what he was wearing the day he laid eerily peaceful in a coffin.
His head no longer shook slightly from side to side,
But if I focused hard enough on his chest I could still see it rise.
He was not breathing.
I was not believing in the definite.

I do not remember what color clothe wrapped around his arms as they folded over his belly.
The same belly that usually hung out from under worn t-shirts and over stretch waistbands of sweatpants.
Regardless of the occasion…
I never saw him as a suit and tie kind of guy,
Even though his friends boasted about him being a good business man.
He was always a relaxed man to me-
Puffing cigarettes and eating ice cream
(sometimes without his teeth).

I do not remember what material made him suitable for his own death,
But if I had to guess,
He was up there,
And yeah,
He is “Up There”
Smiling a belly-laugh filled grin,
Holding on to a bitterness about leaving his family and golf buddies behind,
Yet still finding time to enjoy the silence.

I do not remember the fabric that fastened around my Grandfather’s neck the day we put him to rest,
But I do remember how his hair laid a bit flatter than I had seen it before.
And his wrinkles seemed to have been ironed out of his skin.
The corners of his mouth didn’t curl like they used to when he told his favorite joke,
Which might not have been appropriate,
But it made him laugh every single time.
I kept trying to picture him laugh.

I do not remember what he was wearing as family members wept
And the holiday season started out on a grey note.
I do remember the rain.
The somber setting of it all was so surreal to me.
A day I was numbing pain,
He remained silent and still inside of a fancy box topped off with flowers.

Afterwards,
I sat in his empty chair,
Smelling his stale smoke soaked pillows and picturing the last time I saw him sitting there.
His eyebrows were raised,
His hand on his walker,
His spirits not quite as promising as before.

Aside from that day of sadness,
I will remember the happiness in his voice every time I called him.
And I will remember the short conversations,
The habit of disappearing from dinner after he was finished,
And how my Grandma would roll her eyes but laugh at the same time.
He had this funny way of making people happy.

But no,
I do not remember what he was wearing at his funeral.
I can remember the beautiful gifted flower arrangements and the picture books.
I can remember his belly laugh and chest-heavy cough.
I remember him kindly.
He was always so kind to me.

shadowed pride

Her history casts shadows on her perception, painting her a darker shade of bark than the Aspen trees around her.
She is growing up in a White world,
Looking at White girls with blonde hair and baby blue eyes,
Looking up to guys with pale complexions and White reflections.

She has been alive for five years and only seen similarities when her family meets.
…Only on her Dad’s side where they glow dark like moonlit skies,
Casting midnight shadows upon Her lightness.
She has never…enjoyed…nights but,
She notices the difference between carmel complexions and cocoa covered bodies.

On the other side,
She notices how her hair curls tighter than her baby cousins.
She notices that loving comes in the form of beauty.
Beauty that is handmade and that came in bottles and creams.
She notices she cannot share makeup because it looks
And feels
More like and erasure than a mask.
She begins to mask her differences by straightening her hair everyday before middle school.

13 now,
She’s in between life stages like her skin tone sits on a saturation dial,
Tuning out the hues that color her heavy history.

She does not yet know that Black can be beautiful.
She has not yet been told her Golden skin glistens with the Light of one thousand suns.

She is not charcoaled
Or used.
She was started to lose sense of her past when,
At last,
At 22 she finds harmony.

Proud,
Black activists raising their fists and she is actually
Identifying
With it.

It is un-tainting her vision of dark skin wearing beaten fists, badly.
Like how she so badly wanted to scream hate to her fathers boasting chest but couldn’t because she’s had a
Dark
Past.

With her newly found pride she sees…
Her history is not celebrating
Him.
It is her,
Finally owning her own skin.

When you’re feeling some typuh way.

1.
The clouds are hanging low above me.
They make it seem like heaviness is not only found in this heart beat,
Like these feet are not the only ones tires of carrying weight too heavy for their strength but,
Either way,
The clouds and I are both too stubborn to cry today.
Tears remain locked behind eyelids the same as rain gets stuck in these sulking clouds.
The wind will blow them over me but,
I am pretty solid on my feet.
The golden leaves agree with me.
They glow in harmonies and blow off branches gracefully but,
Distastefully,
My mood changes with the breezes.
Now there are plenty of reasons for gloom as we become doomed for winter.
There are just as many crumpled up leaves by my tripped up feet as there are anxieties in me.
I am riddled with reminders of how deep into darkness my mind can go when left alone too long,
Especially in the long hours of darkness that snow seems to bring but,
For now,
I’m blowing through my high days,
Driving down these high ways the only way I know how.
Moving is the only thing that makes me feel light,
Like the Sun’s warmth on my back disappearing,
I am always leaving but,
I’ve been feeling eerily similar to post winter mud puddles seeping through canvas shoes.
I’ve used up a lot of my springy energy and it seems these clouds above me float effortlessly even though they fall heavy.
I long for that sort of comfortability in falling.
I wish for that sort of strength to float through my own rain.
This heart beats so stressfully,
Endlessly,
It beats down on me.
Pounding me for every time I’ve traced love songs into someone else’s skin only for them to be tuned out again by my own wandering curiosity.
This heart beat is punishing me.
One pump for every heart I’ve ever made heavy.
One pump for every time I could not find a home for their love.
One pump after another trying to wipe myself clean of these selfish memories I have made for myself.
One pump and,
Creatively I stand,
Desperately wondering if this come and go history is still defining me.
One solid pump and,
Maybe my love karma will be washed clean.

2.
When I open my pedaled fingers you will see compliments on my palms.
You will see fingers of two curious hands gracing innocently then,
You will see the not so g-rated version of me underneath.

I have a memory-cage where my rib-cage used to be.
It is formed by flattery from when girls were so sweet to me>
When girls
Tasted
So sweet to me
Frequently.

Now,
It is all sour.
It is blistered bitterness from Suns who licked my leaves with too much heat and left me to burn slowly.
It is freckles of fear from sunlight because I did not yet know darkness.
I did not yet know this feeling of grief that sits with me from weeks of no contact-
From there being no dirt beneath my Lansing rooted feet-
No lover’s skin pressed to my palms.
Admiration inspires me.
Desire drives me.

I am craving honeycombed company.
Someone whose buzz doesn’t bother me so we can both stick around,
Together.
I am waiting for the symphony of someone sweeping me off of my feet
Kindly.
Like feathers falling gently to the forest floor next to us,
Someone,
Come blossom with me.

Creative Curse

I’ve been hit with a creative curse
My bones disperse throughout my body singing harmonies
My eyes shed watercolors when I cry
It seems my soul is too big for my body,
Flowing out of my finger tips like ink
Casting shadows over what seems to be impossible to reach

It’s implausible to try and stop my growth
I’m a lit wick
A burning flame
I’m the smoke circling in front of you when you attempt to smother me
I will light you up with acrylics and lick your remains with paintbrush tips
I’ll hit you harder than ceramics
Contorting your shallow-bowled dreams

I’ve been given this creative curse
Causing me to see meaning in stubbed toes and cigarette butts
Dreaming of open road horizons and bill-less mail
You’re stuck
I have hot glue oozing from my palms
Mod Podge is stuck to my core
I adore your ability to ignore indecency but that’s not me
I feel everything
I see flaws in sidewalk cracks and praise them for going against the rest of the road
Maybe I’m stopped…
And standing…
But my thoughts never idle
There are reasons around every question-
Answers in your ever avoidance

With a mind of an artist,
A heart of inspiration,
And hands as tools
I wire-wrap my arms around admiration and squeeze it to it’s death
Moderation is not a part of me
My dreams are cast with really big frequencies
But it seems to be I resonate hallow in your chest
I used to stress about it
Until I realized echoes only come when there is empty space

If I cannot help fill you
I do not want to feel you
Made to create, yeah, but I am not your creator
The silence in your sunken chest is not enough for me
What does your silence mean?
How do you have the ability to not think?
To not speak?
My mountainous mind does not understand your serene valleys
Where are your avalanches?
When do you crumble?
What makes you break?
Everyone
Can break

Good thing these fingers are laced with duct tape
Good thing it’s not too late for me to show my colors in the street as it rains
Maybe I’m more rainbow than you because
I’ve been hit with this creative curse
Which is something you do not know
So I have got to go overflow into someone else who understands this twisted blessing or else this curse will create my death and
I’ve got far too much creativity left

black and white acrylic

black and white acrylic