The Heart of Texas

Hurricane Harvey reminded us of one thing: we are human. We do not have control over anything other than what we choose to do with this body. We are powerless against nature, but powerful in our will to help others. I’ve seen a lot of reports from people who’ve never stepped foot in Texas, much less Houston. They say how we reacted in time of devastation is inspiring. Some criticize the lack of evacuation plans, our officials, and the President. To the latter I say shut up; you’re missing the bigger, brighter picture.

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What’s happening in Texas is why I still believe in America—and I’m not talking about white people helping black people, black people helping white people. I’m talking about humans helping humans just because they are human. So to the rest of the world who says this is what America is: I say they are right, but Texas has never, at its heart, been any different. This is the reason Texans have always voiced their love for their state—for their city. This love for our neighbors isn’t new—it’s just making headlines because of a disastrous situation.

For me, I thought Harvey would hit us with a few days of rain and knock our electricity out. I thought the flooding would be the same as the flood we had in May of 2016. I thought there would be a lot of inconvenience added to a lot of peoples lives. But I didn’t expect this—even with the warnings that it would be catastrophic.

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But we’re Houstonians. But we’re Texans. We are strong. We make jokes in the wake of devastation. We invite our neighbors into our homes. We jump on a boat to rescue people who have just lost everything. And when we don’t have a boat, we use a canoe.

This is who we are. We help our fellow man—always—a hurricane didn’t create that.

People will always be different, think different, and have different beliefs, but we only care in the public sphere. When we see humanity in need, we fill it. This honestly shouldn’t be surprising.

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My house is dry. My brother’s is dry. My best friend’s is dry. We are blessed beyond compare. Houston is underwater, but our heart is still beating. Our humanity is still intact. When we say we are Houston strong, we mean it.

We give our hands to the ones in need and we gratefully except help from others. Not only have Texans shown their strength, so has every cop, every firefighter, every person with a boat, and every person that came from another place to help.

We might not agree with people on issues, but we see the human, not the ideology.

This is our state, our city, and our people. This is us.

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Preparing for Harvey 

Our pantry is stocked with food and water, but our hearts do not fret. Houston will be hit with hurricane Harvey soon, and they say it will be devastating for Texas.

Yet, instead of fear weaving it’s way into the mind, I sense an excitement. An adventure of powerless houses and board game rivalries that awaits.

To see, and be in awe of the strength of nature; of it’s uncontrollable force.

To hear the crack of thunder and the beat of the wind against every wall of the city.

Here we wait for devastation. Here it could be worse…or it could barely reach us. We don’t know until it fully hits. Until the moment destruction touches us.

I do not worry, I do not fear- for my own. For others I do. For the ones who can’t see a hurricane as a way to light candles and spend hours playing spades by the flicker of the light. For the ones who have no home.

I’m torn between excitement and compassion, and I believe that’s okay.

Poetry – Doubt

Created in the midst of a clock,
Ticking each second to the rhythm of a slowing
Heart. The dust that enfolds my bones,
will weary, will break, will overtake
this creation.

Father, do you believe in doubt?

A fleeting breath exhaled; inhaling
my own speculation. My life now resides
outside of two eyes in the moment
I shook hands with separation,
to dwell within Beauty.

Father, what use is doubt to me?

What use to Abraham, to Paul, to God?
Because when dust no longer creates me
I’ll dwell outside of corruptibility,
and when asked if I’ve tasted death I’ll say
No, but I shook his hand.

Outgrowing YA novels (and why everyone should)

Young adult novels are not written with genuinely good writing. I cast a large net over that generalization, so I will say now that of course there are exceptions.

When I was a avid YA reader I loved Sarah Dessen. And although I still would say she’s a good writer in general, I’ve out grown her books mentally–and think that should be an issue people recognize. Is it naive to think that truly good writing would be unable to outgrow?

YA is like modern romance novels. What I mean by that is that YA, like romance has a constant recurring theme. With romance it’s eros, with YA it’s the coming of age. How is this comparable? Well, romance is all about the emotion and so is YA. YA is designed to suck the young reader into a world by emotions, not by language. That’s an important difference.

Reading is used as an escape, but I think that’s what it’s become and not what it should be. Reading is about understanding humanity in it’s barest form. Middlemarch by George Eliot is a great example of exploring humanity and using characters to show the imperfect reality–how even with good intention imperfection comes. Yet, she doesn’t paint for the reader a sob story for the out-of-luck characters, or outpour fluff for the love story. She presents the world, the characters and through language transports you. But not for escape, rather to understand the world a little more.

Reading YA isn’t awful, but I think it dulls your senses to better writing because it’s easier to want that emotional pull in the novel. I know this because I had the hardest time reading Middlemarch, but through patience (and a lot of rereading) was able to see the technique in the story.

YA isn’t hard to write. Genuine, good language is. It’s rude to say because I know YA authors do put time, effort, and love into their writing–(the exceptions.)

When you weigh the scale of what’s more important to fill your mind with- a over emotionalized love story or a story about what reality is…one should be outgrown and the other never can be.

(If you disagree I’d love to know your reasons why.)

Things Noticed in a Hospital Waiting Room

Labor and delivery, floor 3. The doors are locked. You push a button and say, ‘I’m here to see a patient,” then they buzz you in. Seemed like a fallible system.

Somewhere in between 2-7 PM as I waited for a baby to be born, I listened. Three new grandmothers stood in the middle of the floor. They had the same haircut that seemed to be popular with older women. Short bob.

One: short and stout with colored brown hair and blond highlights. Or was it blonde with brown highlights? The colors were so intermingled that it’s hard to decide. Her grandson had been born forty-five minutes ago. One push and two whole minutes was all it took, she said. Beaming, proud–almost bragging.

Two: the tallest with her bob in simple brown. She had a new grandson, too, except he was early. Born four pounds early. He’s doing great though, she said. He’s strong, a fighter. Adorable even so small. He’ll be out of the hospital in a few weeks.

Three: the face of everyone’s grandmother with her bob in her natural grey. The grandmother on the other side of the premature. His name is Alexander Walker, she said. They were going to name him Bowen, but they moved it to the middle.

They proudly gave the weight and height of each baby. Talked about how precious each boy was. How good the newborns were–hardly even cried. They sounded like the same model grandmother, with only differing looks.

Later, I met my beat friend’s baby. A boy, too. I asked, ‘how long did you push?’ ‘how much does he weigh?’ They answered and even mentioned how good of a baby he was–hardly even cried. He was adorable all wrapped up, just the cutest.

Then I laughed at myself and wondered what was it about babies that made people become the same person. We all became those grandmothers and it’s only a matter of time before we decide to don the same hair cut.

Wordsworth’s Spots of Time

In The Prelude Wordsworth describes the cultivation of his poetic mind using what he coined ‘spots of time’ as the reasons for his poetic inclinations.

Now, what confused me for the longest was what a spot of time was or wasn’t. One of Wordworth’s spots of time included rowing out into a lake late at night and seeing a mountain seemingly lean forward, like an optical illusion.

So what is a spot of time? It depends on the person. Each person has their own experiences and each person will remember things differently. A simple definition is, a memory that stands out as something special, but you can’t quite put your finger on why it’s special.

Many confuse this with the sublime: something so grandeur it’s inspiring. While traveling in Alaska each time I looked out of the window of my RV I was in awe of the vastness of the mountains; the beauty in each frame. This is sublime, but not a spot of time. This is where it gets confusing, because something that is sublime in and of itself isn’t a spot of time, but a spot of time can include the sublime.

It’s something you really have to wrap your head around a few times to begin to understand it.

A further definition is: a spot of time is a moment in your life when it’s as if you feel the order of the universe as God created it, a sense of peace and understanding. You can’t define why the moment is so important, or why it differs from other, it just is. Wordsworth emphasizes nature a lot, not because he believed God was nature, but because God ordered nature.

A spot of time can be as simple as genuinely noticing the sun’s warmth on your skin, because it’s not how special the moment seems on the outside, but what it causes in the mind.

A spot of time in my life that I remember the most includes the sublime. I was in Dawson City on top of a mountain overlooking the city that sat next to the bank of the Yukon river. A city with history deep into the gold rush era; a gold rush city that survived when many others did not. So here was the sublime. An awe-inspiring view of the top of the world, a mighty river, and Dawson City: a place that pinned itself in time.

But that wasn’t what made it a spot of time–I’ve seen beautiful places. This was made a spot of time because the nagging feeling within me that told me that there was something about this place, and I couldn’t say what. Instinctually, it felt like home in a way my real home never had. In that moment of looking out over the expanse I felt an overwhelming sadness that I’d probably never be in that moment again. It was as if a I had found where I was supposed to be my entire life and couldn’t do anything about it, but at the same time couldn’t understand what or why I was thinking that way.

It’s a moment you can only guess to define.

WHY WRITE

Wrting is like all art– tri-part. It involves the writer, the written piece, and the reader. Writing for the self is indulgent, while often times over emotionalized–so much so that the reader is unable to relate. It’s not good writing.

What I find inspiring about Charles Dickens is that he exposed real issues, but neve gave away his opinion or advice. As the reader you’re able to understand and form opinions on your own. Writing is about digging into reality, but not always knowing what you’re going to find. Its an exploration of humanity.

Important ideas have often been told through story: parables, fables, fairytales, because it is often more persuasive than handing out advice. I’m fascinated by language and its ability to create pictures, worlds, ideas. Its power of implication; its ability to suggest.

I believe bold words have power and a place, but i’m in love with the ability to use language to be subtle and sly.

For me, I write because I want to explore the fall of man as changed by God’s grace. How a man can become unrecognizable after that grace is bestowed, or even how a man resists that change. Or maybe the life of the sluggard in relation to modernity–the same with the virtuous women.

I want to use language because God used language.

I am a writer because of this.