My 2014 Reading List

Hey World,

It's about time to make some resolutions, right? One thing that I really want to commit to in 2014 is to unplug and open spines, in that order. Of course, I'm referencing unplugging from my phone and my computer and my TV in times of boredom and open spines...of actual books!
I have a Kindle and he and I have been through a lot together, but there's nothing like a nice paperback or hardcover and a blanket to make everything in the world right again.

My other resolution is to track my readings in 2014 -- as a way to track my interests, see what I've accomplished, and see how many books I can actually read. It also will discourage me from reading too many sappy love stories...although let's be honest, I'm sure a few of them will pepper their way in here. 

This past month, I've been off from school, so I had an inordinate amount of free time. I also had other things going on, and I'm working on unplugging more (this list could be so much longer....damn Criminal Minds!). 

But here is my list, so far, in order. I'll continue to update it every month or two with additions. 

Books Read in 2014:

Baking Cakes in Kigali, Gaile Parkin
Giving, Bill Clinton
Dictatorship to Democracy, Gene Sharp
The Antelope Strategy, Jean Hatzfeld
Laughs, Luck…and Lucy, Jess Oppenheimer
Bucolic Plague, Josh Kilmer-Purcell
The Sex Lives of Cannibals, J. Maarten Troost
Cinderella Ate My Daughter, Peggy Orenstein
One Man’s View of the World, Lee Kuan Yew
The Brightest Star in the Sky, Marian Keyes
Divergent, Veronica Roth
Showing Up for Life, Bill Gates Sr. 
Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg
Insurgent, Veronica Roth
The Plague, Albert Camus
The Other Wes Moore, Wes Moore
A Free Man, Aman Sethi
Fault in Our Stars, John Green
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Frank L. Baum
Small Wars, Sadie Jones
The Long Walk, Slavomir Rawicz
A Long Walk to Water, Linda Sue Park
Like Trees, Walking, Ravi Howard
Blueprints for Building Better Girls, Elissa Schappell

Note: this list will not include books read for school, because I think that's a different kind of relationship with books and reading. 

I hope to add another book every week or so; right now I'm at 23 in 4 months!


*Last updated April 24th, 2014

I Hate My Curtains

Hey world,

When I used to blog frequently, I often found that opening a new blog post and furiously typing whatever came out was a form of catharsis for me -- regardless if I published it for left it in the purgatory of my drafts. 

Now that I blog only once in awhile, I have slowly noticed a bottlenecking of emotions. And boy, is this bottle of emotions ready to burst!

As I'm typing this, it's 3:51 am on a Sunday (Monday) morning. It's Martin Luther King Jr. Day; a holiday celebrating a man who rose before a movement and led a struggle that dramatically altered the United States for the better. 

Ironically, I'm embroiled in my own struggle (though certainly not anywhere near as momentous of proportions). 

But like MLK I have a dream and, like MLK, I desire change.


This past Saturday, I had one of the nice maintenance men who works in my building come and install my curtain rod. When he left, I dragged over my stool and hung up my very first pair of curtains. 

I expected to have this great moment of triumph; I had aesthetically completed my apartment! 
Instead, I shrugged my shoulders and dragged my stool back to the island. 

The next morning, I woke up and thought "I wonder if I feel different now that I have curtains!" -- surprisingly, I didn't. Now that I'm staring at them in the dark...I'm still not impressed with them.

They've slid from a temporary moment of triumph to living proof that I'm now completely compliant with the vision of NYC apartment-living domesticity. 


I think the curtains need to come down.
Change is imminent; but first, there must be a struggle. 


A Litany for Survival

Hey world,

I took a hiatus, but I'm back to share another poem. I know, I'm also thinking seriously, what is this? A poetry collection blog? but this one has a back story so sit back for a moment.

When I decided to accept the job with WorldTeach, I was absolutely ecstatic. But I also knew that at some point, I would to start doubting myself. I would get nervous. I would get to Tanzania and have potential mental breakdowns about everything*.

(*If there's anything I can say about myself without hesitation, it would be that I'm very adept at guessing what Future Me will do. And Future Me, and Current Me, is ALWAYS in a tizzy worrying about the next set of divergent paths in the wood instead of accepting my current location)

So when I came across this Audre Lorde poem, I was transfixed. I retyped it into a word document (helps press it into your memory) and then printed multiple copies of it and tucked them all over my room. One copy made it to Tanzania and home with me, and it's that quarter-fold that I now have in my apartment hanging on the side of my fridge. 

Out of the way, but nearby if needed. 

I identify with the "those of us" referenced throughout the poem, and I feel as though many travelers, wanderlusters and world-seekers would too. 

It's about quelling the what-ifs and giving into the what-the-hell's. 

As I've recently had to admit, the hardest thing to be afraid of is fear itself. 


A Litany for Survival
- Audre Lorde

For those of us who live at the shoreline
standing upon the constant edges of decision
crucial and alone
For those of us who cannot indulge
the passing dreams of choice
who love in doorways coming and going
in the house between dawns
looking inward and outward
at once before and after
seeking a now that can breed
like bread in our children's mouths
so their dreams will not reflect
the death of ours:

For those of us
 who were imprinted with fear
like a faint line in the center of our foreheads
learning to be afraid with our mother's milk
for by this weapon
this illusion of some safety to be found
the heavy-footed hoped to silence us
For all of us 
this instant and this triumph
We were never meant to survive. 

And when the sun rises we are afraid
it might not remain
and when the sun sets we are afraid
it might not rise in the morning
When our stomachs are full we are afraid
of indigestion
When our stomachs are empty we are afraid
we may never eat again
When we are loved we are afraid
love will vanish
When we are alone we are afraid
love will never return
and when we speak we are afraid
our words will not be heard
nor welcomed
but when we are silent
we are still afraid. 

So it is better to speak
We were never meant to survive.