sábado, 21 de enero de 2012

almas gemelas....

I came to shadow at YES Prep..."the best school in Houston." It lives up to its name, or maybe I've just been drowning in San Antonio public school culture lately. But that's neither here nor there. I loved it, and I would jump out of my pants if they offered me a position for next year.

I'm here for the weekend, and I wanted to do this as cheaply as possible, so I found the most inexpensive hostel available and booked a room for two nights. YES Prep graciously transported me from the bus station, and as we warily navigated our way through the dusky humidity, I can't say I didn't question the stellar online hostel reviews. We pulled up to a tiny whitewashed compound of three short buildings overlooking a torn up street full of backhoes and leering middle aged construction workers. My mother's voice in the back of my head heaved a great disappointed sigh. But there's no room for the timid little girl from Lancaster here, and I don't miss her much.

Back the alley and up the steps I climbed, cracked open the screen door and knocked to the tune of raucous giggling from within. Enter Maggie into a 3' by 5' kitchenette bursting with three of the jolliest beaming personalities I've ever encountered. Before I could wipe the slightly confused sensory overload off my face, they'd sat me down, offered me some wine, extracted half my life history and spilled all of theirs. In peeked two of my fellow hostelers, to whom my hosts promptly introduced me. Next thing I knew I was on my way to dinner with seven spectacular world travelers.

So thank you southern hospitality, karma, buena vibra, or whatever guided me to this lovely little haven in the midst of looming slate gray high rises. I love my job, I love my kids, I love City Year, but I got lost in the rhythm and forgot I was human for a minute. Forgot that there's a wide wide world out here full of spirit and craziness and strange familiarity. Here, for a moment, a soul-salving hush fell over my world, nudging me towards these new kindred spirits. And here, my darlings, we find evidence of a blessed life.

domingo, 11 de diciembre de 2011


he stands there
absently shuffling dirty sneakers
draping himself over the cold iron bars rising from concrete
steps in the dusky November haze

i glance at the digits on my cell phone itching
to be sinking into my cushy sofa where i should have been twenty minutes ago
if his mom cared to pick him up at 5:30 like she's supposed to

only one foot in the conversation-my eyes cracked open
brain yawning, i muster a "how was your weekend?"
his usual "boring" in the usual slow stuffy-nosed mumble
does he ever utter two sentences together without a three-second pause?
ugh. i kick my Tims against the ZINGing of the iron rail
tonight is not the night i love children.

now as if rising from the brain-bruising concrete or fishing his
consciousness out of that November haze he offers
that he hates teachers
and cops too
because they locked up his uncle for no reason
had his dad on the ground in cuffs for dealing his cousin for rape but he didn't do nothin' either
and there's a drug war in the projects so they shoved him (myseventhgrader!) to the wall and cuffed him and
when he shoved back the
pig spat in his ear-
i can do whatever the hell
i want 'cause
you're never gonna be nothin' but a
drug pusher.

Andrew. what can i tell you? do your homework?
cops aren't the bad guys? don't shove back next time?
what can i tell you?
because my world wasn't made for you. makes no sense to you. isn't real for you.
little latino boy of the projects
who's gonna listen to you?

lunes, 7 de noviembre de 2011


yesterday she must have been a butterfly
yet here she slugs along, balancing act on a wisp of a green leaf
some psychotic seesaw just weak enough to bow this way and that under
the weight of her bulbous caterpillar body
yet...yesterday she must have had wings
the SWOOSH of spiraling upwards
spirit and diaphanous body one and the same

today the wind and the sunlight slant are her enemies
harsh rays make perfectly plain her design
as the other winged creatures flit and pirouette
wounding her, oblivious in their own rambunctious ecstasy

her joyless compromise
because nature flip flops and somersaults, toying with her form
she learns to breathe in any body
knowing not what she'll be tomorrow

domingo, 16 de octubre de 2011


For once I am not writing about school. Whether or not a blog is the place to spill your personal life, I've decided it's alright to blur the line just this once. I'll keep it classy :P

Since I've moved here something seems to have tilted. It's a whole new world, and in more than one sense. Of course I knew I was coming to a new state, a new culture, a new landscape. And yet I find that no matter how firmly I believed I had anticipated everything, this new adventure surprises me at least three times a day.

I've built my life around this idea that my only purpose is to love others selflessly. Cut to 16 year old Maggie discovering Che Guevara, falling in love with the idea of giving up EVERYTHING for purity of vision. That love was infectious...like those blown ink paintings you made in elementary school art class. Unpredictable, the ink tumbles in ridiculous patterns across the page, always reaching farther and wider than you believe possible. Suddenly that love became my driving force, became ME, and I became a girl governed by the desire for extremes. Thirsting always to find that cause I could latch onto and internalize. To become nothing but a resource for a goal, to surrender personal need, desire, identity for something greater. For years I trudged along, going somewhere, feeling in my core that I would find that vision someday. I thought maybe I'd join Peace Corps and live in Africa and save starving children or some such lofty nonsense.

Insert four years of university education, where I learned to deconstruct human interactions and definitions and found myself with nothing left. Studying anthropology was overwhelming...and that's a pathetic understatement. They told me that everything, from the words I speak to the emotions that fuel me, are nothing but arbitrary chances of nature. And I was terrified...I felt robbed of any sense of purpose. If human existence is chance, then what is the meaning of anything? So I became obsessed with the idea of boiling every human culture down to its core, thinking somehow the Truth would reveal itself and tell me how to live. Tell me what was right. There I was, cowering in the corner, until that one professor tiptoed in. He didn't teach...he put me in a boat and pushed me offshore and knew that I would learn to steer. And I did. Suddenly all those raging fears tamed themselves and I emerged something stronger. Knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt who I was, what my purpose was and that Truth is nonsense. Choice is everything.

Now here I am in Texas, trying to do his work...to give people choices. Knowing that these children are miracles--crazy manifestations of humanity that make my life beautiful. So now I know why I'm here. I've come as close to that purity of vision, that surrender of self as I think reality will allow me. I love my work. I couldn't have created a better life for myself. I've forged, molded and fine-tuned my public identity. It will always be a work in progress, but it's more exquisite than I ever dreamed possible.

But something crept up on me, and now it won't let me rest. That whisper, so meek and unpretentious and undemanding that somehow it demands attention. I've loved--I love every day, and I love so many and so much. Because selfless love is easy. Loving these kids is easy, because they don't have to love me back. I can tell myself that they'll appreciate me someday, but I'll never have to face that someday. I'll never have to ask for them to love me and wither when they don't. It's easy to give, and to sit up here on my pedestal believing I'm wonderful and divine because I ask for nothing in return. But that's a crutch. It's not a strength. It's a weakness, an insecurity, and I can't stand that living within me.

My secret fuel (my Achilles' heel), buried so deep that no one will ever find it, is that I love myself so dearly. I'm so fiercely possessive of me, of who I am and what I believe, that letting someone else have part of it violates the very atoms that comprise me. Loving who I do and the way I do keeps "me" sacred and untouched. I can give out but never ever have to let anything or anyone come in and claim part of me. And for a very long time, I've convinced myself that this is what makes me strong. But it's not. Loving friends and kids and my family is easy. Because it's an act, a decision, a process and then a feeling. It requires no loss of self-control. Sex is easy. Because it's an act, just skin and hormones and biology. Playing with men is easy, like acting.

Taking one person, giving that person a part of yourself, letting them know what you really are and who you really are, and letting it hang there, suspended and stored within them, is terrifying. I've been fooling myself. Obsessed with strength and brimming with ego, I've been skirting this final frontier my whole life.