guitar in the streets

so i’m in class right now. i know i should be paying attention but we’re watching a movie and this will be quick…

we just did a “team builder”. we were given a piece of paper and were told to write three interesting things about ourself. i got stuck for a second because pulling random facts about myself out of the abyss in my brain is not always easy. however, after a few seconds i quickly scribbled some facts down. i was told to crumple up the paper into a wrinkled mess after my interesting things were jotted down. doing so, i looked around the room at the majority of people, pencil in hand, staring blankly at the wall trying to come up with something interesting about themselves. like they were a clone of every other person with nothing that sets them apart from the rest of humanity. i can lick my elbow, that’s interesting. i was born in Grand Rapids and i’m a part of CMU Word Hammer, slam poetry club. i’m interesting…and i feel bad for those people who don’t find themselves interesting. i think that if you don’t find yourself interesting then no one else ever will. it’s sad.

and now i’m going to post a picture in the sole purpose of trying to show everyone how cool my friends are (in my opinion, of course):


B and Shiner playing guitar in the empty streets after sundown.


weekly photo challenge: solitary

solitary: adjective: separated from or unfrequented by others; remote or secluded.
adjective: enjoyed or performed alone

there are many definitions of solitary, but these are the ones i felt most comfortable with. i live in an apartment above a bar on a semi-high traffic flowing road in downtown Mt. Pleasant, MI. there’s rarely any quiet on before 2am thursday through saturday, and even on some weekdays the bar below me is booming with loud music and even louder people.

one weekend, unlike all the rest, there was no one. not a single person walking the street, no one hollering for taxis, and no line of people stretching down the street. on memorial weekend, this street was deserted. and i loved it.


in the middle of my walk down the empty streets i sat down. to be honest, i was going to set up a self timer to capture my friend and i by a giant mural of a tree of the side of a building, but i was distracted by this lonely fire hydrate. even though my friend was close by, i felt completely separated from everyone else. the quietness of the streets gave me a feeling of complete solitude (which is completely opposite from what the noisy, bar-going people filled sidewalks usually evoke).


every now and again, when i manage to close all of my open web browsers and word documents, i see my background picture again. it’s one of my favorite pictures from my trip to Kenya.Image I’m holding Sharon’s hand and taking her for a morning walk. just seeing the picture is enough for my ears to ring with her excited screech. every now and again…i miss it.

Sharon and i developed a strong relationship within the three weeks i was there, and for that, this post is dedicated to her. she would sit up straight, clap her hands, and crack the biggest smile whenever i walked into the room. i would like to think she looked forward to seeing me, but then again, i’m not in her brain. however, what i do know is, something in her brain triggered happiness when she saw me. and with her hands in mine, that happiness resinated in myself as well. she was contagious. she had a smile that brings tears to my eyes when i see it.


i found sharon sitting on the side of a classroom one day, smile and all.

every once and a while i wonder if she’s still walking every morning. i wonder if her smile still shows up so frequently and i get a rush of feelings telling me i need to go back. i need to know if they’re as happy as i can make them. if they aren’t, then i went back for a reason, and if they are, then i’d love to see them.

Sharon fake cried a lot. this would usually bother me but it wasn’t loud, it wasn’t overdone, and there were rarely any actual tears. she sat, legs crossed, in a chair with her arms folded in her lap. she starred at the ground, looking up from time to time only to catch someone’s attention, look down again and wince her face in hopes of shedding a tear. she knew exactly how to get attention in that school.

one day, a couple of some volunteers from the U.S. decided to take some kinds swimming at the resort they were staying in. they had been there the year before as well and established trust between the faculty of the school so they were immediately given the green light. i was one of the lucky volunteers that got to go on the day Sharon was going.

Hannah and i crammed into a car with some other volunteers. we shoved kids on our lap (totally safe in Kenya, don’t worry) and drove to the pool. all of the kids were beyond thrilled to even be going for a car ride. i’m not sure if they knew where they were going or not, but they didn’t care. i was sitting between Hannah and another volunteer. i had Sharon on my lap and Hannah had Diana on hers.




Diana was the first girl at the school to cling on to me for a giant hug. she’s deaf, but i didn’t know that until almost a week of being there. that sure made me feel a little silly when looking back on all of the times i had verbally instructed her to do something, or even just called her name across the room…along with Sharon, Diana has an all to amazing smile. i couldn’t help but give her a big squeeze when she looked up at me, titled her head, smiled, and then reached out her arms. she’s a lover.

the ride to the pool didn’t take long. every minute of the drive i was consumed by the genuine excited faces starring out of the window. it was one of those moments that i was smart enough to catch on camera. however, even if i hadn’t captured that moment on film, i would have always been able to feel it.

Sharon’s laugh was one of the truest “sound” memories i took with me from that trip. everyday i can hear it in my head just as clearly as the first day i took her for a walk at the school. even though she may not speak, she is the most beautiful spirited person. i would like to say that i’m not one to pick favorites, but all i’m saying is i don’t dedicate whole entries to one person very often…Sharon is definitely on my list of five kids i want to stash away in my suitcase and bring back with me next time i visit.


Sharon, clapping constantly.


Sharon, shaking her musical egg at their “concert”.


seriously…how could you not love her?

click here to see a video of Sharon.


while going through the “notes” on my phone just now, i came across one that was written at 1:23 tuesday morning. obviously, i couldn’t sleep. the note is as follows:

questions that are going through my head:

since when is monday bar night? i mean, i can understand thursday through saturday, i am on a college campus after. i can get over the fact that i’m going to have to squeeze through a line of people waiting to get into the bar downstairs as i try and make my way upstairs to me room. speaking of this line of people, why must they all yell? i can hear their every word from my bedroom as their drunkenly slurred comments make their way through my window. tonight is especially bad. one guy keeps whistling loudly (impressively loud, but annoying) as his friend makes a woww wooww sound like an electric guitar. others are hooting and hollering. it also sounds as though someone has some sort of metal instrument, but they could have been hitting a number of things against a street sign…or…my bike!

what if my bike is bent up and broken when i walk downstairs to go to class tomorrow? the bike rack is only three feet away from the entrance to the bar and people are walking in and out of there constantly. these so called bar goers are probably drunk and let’s all be honest, we’ve all seen (or heard of for all you innocent bodies) of a drunk person saying things like, “dudee let’s totally smash this bike tire, it’ll be awesomee.” if this were the case, i’m definitely going to be late for class.

clearly, i was a bit fed up with the scream-talking going on outside of my window. seriously though, monday nights usually fill the street with deserted-ness. no cars. no people. no yelling. just me and my bed listening to the silence the air is ringing with. besides tonight, of course, because it is “thirsty thursday”.

i’ve never really been one to participate in these thursday festivities. the main reason being, unlike the majority of students on campus, i always end up taking friday classes. going to class tired is hard enough as it is but hungover? no. thanks.

i found two other notes i had written that night as well. one of them said, “everything tastes better through a straw,” and this statement could not be more accurate. i’m not a milk drinking unless the word “chocolate” comes beforehand, but give me a straw and i’ll suck a whole cup of that stuff down in seconds. the second note is interesting. it said, “automatic sinks are only there to make you wave hello to the people behind the one way mirror in the bathroom, that’s why they never work well.” kind of weird to think about but honestly, those things NEVER work unless you give them a good wave or two…similar to automatic paper towel dispensers.

i know they’re there for sanitary reasons, but pretty soon we’re going to have automatic everything and people aren’t going to have to do anything at all. except stand in their automatic walking machine and go through automatic doors to get to their automatic stairs (escalators) to get into their house that probably will have a moving sidewalk in it (i wouldn’t complain about that last part, those things are freakin’ awesome). basically, what i’m trying to say is pretty soon we’ll all be robots, living an automatic life. that doesn’t sound like fun to me.

totally unrelated thoughts

the other day i put a quarter in someone else’s expired parking meter on campus. i figured 25cents spent on my behalf is better than 15dollars spent on theirs. today i found a quarter while walking to class. i figured it was karma paying me back.

i wish i could study or do homework with music playing. i wish my mind didn’t get lost in the lyrics of my favorite song and distract me from the paragraph i’ve already read five times but still don’t know what it’s explaining. i wish i could have that sense of calmness Ben Howard’s sweet voice and guitar lull me into. but i can’t if i plan on accomplishing anything more than sitting on my couch staring at my ceiling fan with the sun light warming my shoulders through the window behind me, and that always sounds better, to me, than homework.

I envy people who have birthdays at the beginning of the month for one reason: those dreaded birthday forms for anything on the internet. when filling them out i have to scroll allllll the way down to the bottom to reach “30”. people who have a birthday on the first don’t understand how good they have it, they just have to click right where their mouse rested originally. lucky buggers.

i love interpreting what animals are thinking and saying it out loud. sometimes i use different voices to portray feelings, other times it’s all about the timing. a lot of the times i do this just for the giggles, but a good percent of the time i really do genuinely feel like if the animal could talk and express an emotion i would be depicting it correctly. i know there are pet psychics and stuff but i’ve never heard of a pet translator…i should run with this and become the first ever pet translator! that is, unless someone already beat me to it, and if they have i would only be mad because i haven’t heard of them sooner.
i think i would be accurate most of the time, but other times i would just make up thoughts depending on what i thought of the owner. if the owner seemed really uptight and wants to make their animal a little human and strip them of every animal tendency they have (like when cats try to jump on tables) but they still so in love with the little fur ball that they would do anything for them, i would interpret their pet saying something like this,

“the only reason i jump on tables is so i can be closer to your heart.”

now, wouldn’t that create a massive amount of “oohs” and “awws”? it would be great “reality” tv. just like the psychic from jersey. she’s a hoot.

today, while bored in my math class, i picked up a piece of cardboard like paper the kid next to me was about to throw away (not even recycle). there was a slit in this rectangular cardboard paper that reminded me of the frown on the grumpy old lady from Monsters Inc., Roz. (see picture on left) seeing this, i started drawing away. now, i didn’t quite remember how Roz actually looked so i decided to try and create something i thought could sort of look like her…maybe. Imageit turns out i ended up drawing a really peculiar frog instead. there was a lot of open space left and time was limited, so i pulled together a quick poem as a filler.

i am but a frog, croaking for a fly on the wall to see me.
flies don’t bother me.
i am but a frog, feeling lonely on my lilypad.
flowers make me sneeze.
i am but a frog, bothered by ignorant tadpoles,
feeling like i can’t wait for the day they sprout legs and hop away.
i am but a frog, croaking only out of habit,
focusing on nothing but flies.

on a completely different note…i wish the snoring of a human sounded like the purring of a cat.

free writes

last year was my first year in Central Michigan University’s Word Hammer slam poetry club. we hold a few slam competitions each year and meet weekly on Tuesday’s nights for workshopping and critiquing. tonight we did free writes based from prompts given to us by our president, Ariel. the first free write we were given the word “shot” and had to create a poem from it. here’s my result:

for three years i’ve been taking shots to the arm,
triceps swelling weekly only to decrease in time for another shot.
i was picked and poked for reasons i didn’t quite believe in.
the doctor said it would help.
my parents were desperate to stop the sniffling and sneezing.
i was caught in a conundrum.
i didn’t much care for the runny noses, sleepless nights spent up blowing me nose and the itchy, watery eyes that kept me inside while everyone else was enjoying spring time.
however, going into a building full of grey chairs and white walls didn’t sound appealing either.
i never crave the sensation of a needle,
and i hate the smell of those weird latex gloves,
but allergy shots were the only thing that could save me when Claritin, Zyrtec, and seven other off brand allergy medicines decided not to work for me.
the dust had taken over.
the pollen had crippled me.
the cats had controlled me.
they scratched at my swollen throat, swelled my tear blurred eyes, and left me breathless, desperate for a strong inhale through my nose
and out my mouth
the way breathing should be, so effortless like that.

for the second prompt we had to write a poem about ourselves that is entirely untrue. here’s what i churned out:

i love people with bad grammar.
i love when people drown their papers in y-o-u-r instead of y-o-u-r-‘-e.
it really…gets me off.
just like when people  claim they have “seent this girl.”
when i see that it’s almost as if i seent the future and was already in bed with them.
it’s hard for me to not love when people tell me to go to t-h-e-r-e house and when i ask them where “there” is they explain that it’s over t-h-e-i-r.
it’s like they really know how to tickle my fancy.
bad grammar should be utilized more often,
but not everyone can pull it off.
bad grammar is too fancy for people wearing suit coats and ties.
bad grammar is showcased and perfected by the most intellectual people on this earth.
bad grammar is…sexy.
i love when people replaced letters with symbols like money signs because that’s all everyone looks for anyways.
money captures everyone’s attention and i absolutely love attention seeking trash.

obviously, i’m a fan of grammar, even though, without fail, i always type “grammer” instead of “grammar” at first. anyways, the next prompt we were given the word “voodoo”:

there is one person in particular that i wouldn’t mind making a voodoo doll for.
i lived with her for three years,
went to school with her for four years before that,
and believe me, that was way too long to know her.
she’s one of those people who i want to punch in the face…and i’m not usually a violent person.
however, i do fall into a daydream from time to time of me pushing her down the stairs…
into a pile of pillows, of course. i mean, i’m not trying to kill the girl…
but i would thoroughly enjoy talking her off of my old porch.
the porch at the house i found for us and our friends to live in.
the porch of the house she still lives in with “friends” who’s backbones are made of silk.
maybe i should make voodoo dolls for them too…
but i should start out small to test things out…
she was so stubborn in her ways and she always has been.
she would argue even when numbers proved her wrong.
she’s also a pathological liar so for that, i would poke that voodoo doll in the mouth with my pencil and make her taste the weight of the lead she filled my body with.
she did nothing but bring me down.
so for that she would get a stab in the foot just hard enough to make her trip as far as i did when she claimed i was a criminal.
you see, that’s where her lying comes in.
and her stubbornness comes in when she sits next to her boyfriend showing off their smirk covered faces.
i would cover her face with bumblebees so she could feel how much personal attacks stick.
my mind still rings with her stupid sounding voice accompanied with memory montages that mold to my eyelids every time i squeeze them in hopes to forget.
i want to forget about her.
so for that, her voodoo doll would get thrown away with the tuesday night trash.
essentially, she would be a waste of materials.

i’m clearly a little bitter, but what better way to remove those feelings than to put them into words and spit them out? writing is release at it’s finest.

weekly photo challenge: everyday life



being a college student in central Michigan, life for me is pretty basic: wake up, go to class, eat some food, and go to class again. when i think about everyday life here, it’s simple and, in my opinion, boring. however, during my recent visit to Kenya i realized that the more simple something is, the harder it becomes for people living outside of the Kenyan way of life.

this is, Dan, our tuktuk driver during my stay in Watamu, Kenya. he lives a simplistic life out of his one room house built from sticks and grasses, in his yard full of trees and dirt ground. in this picture he is squatting next to his “grill” in his “kitchen”. he made us a wonderful meal of whole fish and prawns. we were impressed with how seasoned and well cooked this meal was. he said, “oh, darlings, it’s notinngg” but i think he’s something else.