American Rafiki

6/4/16

We were robbed last night. No broken windows.

I am not quite pleased, but I’m not exactly mad either.

Last night I spent about an hour typing a blog post, only to find it disappeared this morning when I found internet to post it.

I’m writing daily to keep myself present. I’ve decided I like myself best whenever I use my brain to write and to read, and the rest of the time, I just want to live.

So, let’s work backwards in my journal.

Today, I’ve been sitting in my corner at Westport Coffeehouse. Used to work here not six months ago, and man, I’m glad to be done working in coffee shops. But now, I can finally enjoy the environment I worked so hard to cultivate every day I put on that black v neck and stepped up to the espresso machine.

I ran into one of my regulars, a painter who has lost eye sight since I’ve known him. He tells me my new job sounds amazing, especially for a writer. Not writing people’s stories now, but taking it all in to add context to anything I would write in the future. Continuing to learn people. I think this is the most important thing to my writing. Learning people, listening to people. And learning and listening to myself.

He’s so nice. I miss him. And his encouragement of my writing. I told him how I hadn’t written for six months, because I had been so focused on my job. But how I realized recently I really didn’t like the person that I was becoming. I couldn’t stand the anxiety that was building up. I didn’t like the lack of presence in my person, nor the lack of oneness with the world.

He said, it’s especially important to keep at whatever fills you daily. There’s something inside of creative types that begs to be heard, or at the very least that begs to get out.

Blog. It’s my ticket. Either because I’m lazy, or have just really stumbled upon my sweet spot.

Last night, I drew a picture of my view of the apartment, sitting cross legged on the living room floor while playing bananagrams with Carp and his brother Matt. I remembered how much I enjoy dabbling in other art forms. And though I have no desire to become a great painter or musician, it helps to practice other art forms if only to strengthen your own art form.

Blog is my ticket. It’s a sanctuary for my mind, and also something to hold me accountable. I think a journal is essential, but I think something about a blog is beautiful in that it takes a bit of self awareness and self disgust and self amazement to post so much about yourself publicly. And I don’t think it helps all people, but it helps me. And I like to think that my words sometimes help other people, too. And I think anytime we have a voice to share, we should share it. Especially in a passive way such as a blog. Then only the ones really seeking out your voice have to experience it.

My goal for the fall: to enroll in an Arabic class. I thought about Spanish, but it just doesn’t get me excited. And I also don’t have daily access to Spanish speakers the way I do Arabic speakers. Northern African to Western Asia- it is super useful. And something that I want to be able to communicate with.

Next, Journalism. I realize that I value the power of the moment more than I value my ability to wait things out. When I wait, my mind goes crazy with doubt and possibilities. When I just sit down and write, I can pretty reliably turn something out. I realize I like reading first hand accounts more than I like reading biographies or fiction. And I realize the power of fiction in journalism- the power to bend the truth and the metaphors to capture the attention, the moment, and the meaning. I realize that untruth is not a bad thing, and there really is no such thing as untruth. It all is.

“Is the inspiration coming to you?” Amanda asks me as she walks by. Amanda has been tied to Carp and I in strange ways ever since we landed in Kansas City. Both of our coworkers at different locations for a time period, Amanda is about to fly off to Cambodia in a few weeks. She’s not sure what she’s going to do in the future, but she’s going to continue with the unknown and the adventure because that’s what she knows best. She’s not sure if she should be chasing more than the unknown. If at some point, you’re supposed to start pinning down some known things? Or if movement is the key.

I always thought movement was the key. I still do, really. I realize that it’s not necessarily less stressful when you’re traveling, but you do develop a certain numbness. You cannot possibly react to everything, so you develop the ability to just glide over things. And exist along the bumps in the road, instead of running screaming from them.

There are two radical groups that I’m thinking of dipping my toes into in the next few weeks, as I begin to ease myself back into the real world again, instead of trying to painstakingly keep myself separate from it.

You get stronger from living in the chaos, not from hiding from it. That’s what I’ve always known, and lived by for most of my life. It’s when I let myself get too much inside of my head that I begin to retreat in fear.

Well, I got out of my head somehow. I escaped. I fucking escaped, and I will fucking run and write for the rest of my life, because there is nothing worse than being trapped in your own personal hell.

Don’t let it get created.

5/3/16 Last Night

 

“That’s the joy of fly over states. We’re allowed to handle explosives sold in highschool parking lots.”

BOOM

July 4th.

Last year I didn’t get any fireworks, the sun was eternally out day and night in the Arctic.

“The richer and the whiter, the better the show.”

Boring and upsetting.

It’s like I can’t stop listening to it. I can’t separate myself. We were hoping this didn’t happen when Matt was here.

Outside with the fireworks, I told Carp that we owe it to ourselves to at least try another adventure like NCCC.  

I want to write and read life. I want someone to pay me to move, but also pay me to sit in cafes most of my life, taking knowledge and people and putting them to words on paper.

Manifesto Daily

#1 Fill Journals

#2 Blog post daily

#3 Jog daily

#4 Writing time alone

#5 Enjoy presence with other people

#6 Start a co-op on the streets

#7 Experiment with different art forms to strengthen writing. Open to art as open to people.

American Rafiki.

Life as an adult with a pen: No regrets (living with the scribbles)

Manifesto:

#1 No complaining

#2 Start with accomplishments and build

6/1/16

Cultural values

Power distance (acceptance of power or natural questioning)

Uncertainty allowance (how go with the flow your culture is)

Masculinity v. femininity (how much you value guns, or people)

Long term goals v. short term (if you want to save face in the moment, or make real

change for the future, ya know?)

Indulgence v. restraint (what are we aiming at? Dreams in heaven or on earth?)

We’d all like to aim for dialogue, but we almost always slide into debate. Looking at the reasons why you’re ready to bite your teeth into an argument tells you a lot about you more than them.

We’ve got something in common.

Practice leading again. We need you.

“Write a story on firecracker paper and disappear”

We are our stories.

 

6/30/16

“Now is what can be. The rest is wait and see.”

 

6/29/16

“What I need to do is bottom out.”

We’re drinking and want pizza, but instead are served sauerkraut shots with horseradish and vodka.

He’s a saint. He’s a frank.

I’m wearing Ben’s black and white checkered pajama pants along with my velvet ballet flats.
The waitress makes a co-conspirator face at me, and I take a slug of my wheat beer and scribble in my notebook.  

I’m free from forward thinking again.

I say I say I say

I faced my fears today.

I found the lone hawk

Sitting high on the gate.

It looked out of place. And it

Looked with a face

But I say I say I say it had

A soul

And oh did I hear

The horn right near

Blast me right out of my daze

My gaze sternly looked

To the road for a crook

And found instead a

Smiling face

Really, it’s none of it bad.

You can have armpit hair and pajamas in a Croatian bar in the Heartland

And you can walk on,

Hold your breath as you

Step in your car

Pray for redemption

And pray for exemption

And never knowing when

You’ll fall

The Truth of it is

Troost is not a sin

So get on the bus

Feel up the public space

Give up your protection in favor of

Affection

It’s the age of Trump and consumerism rules

But sometimes your office moves to the inner city

And you ride the bus home alone

With the masses who are you.

Shalom.

Today I faced my fears

I say I say I say

He’s looking over his beer

We all need to get over it and join the Dance

Because there is nothing else to do, America

The age of Trump

Fuck it all, and throw yourself with the masses.

I remembered how to write the day I passed level 3

I stood there. I ran away

I inched back to safety-

I ran

I inched back to safety-

I phoned home

I inched back to safety- and I saw them waiting.

Three young men- from North Africa, Central Africa, and the war torn middle east.

Having seen so much more fear than I ever have, much less this past hour.

So I walked up to them, and was greeted with smiles and handshakes

As I was still shaking

But I knew I must work.

I wanted this more than the fear.

And so we took off. They were in it

With me

We missed the first bus, and found another one going the same direction. Stepping on the bus, I am greeted by a family from the Middle East with hugs and kisses on both cheeks as the bus begins jerking down the road

“Hello! Hello!”

The mother tells me they are headed to Walmart for Colombus Day. I smile, and one of the boys I’m with starts talking with the family in Arabic. I sit and smile.

At our transfer downtown, we ran into two African women I knew. Without English but occasionally with enveloping hugs when I see them.

They were upset and confused as to where exactly they were going, this being only the second time taking the new route.

-“You want carrots?”

“Not today.”

We journeyed together to South Central Kansas City taking the Troost MAX bus, and halfway through the journey, I look back in the bus, and the two women are watching me. We all smile and laugh. They are waiting to see where I get off the bus at.

At the bar with Ben after work, he’s wearing flip flops and is getting up to pee for the second time. It’s Ramadan, and I’m speaking in Absolutes.

“I got a name.”

“They’re all corporate guys who work here. They got up one day and said, fuck it.” The waitress tells us as she gives us a Croatian shot with more sauerkraut to share.

Keeping things secret is the problem, not the things themselves.  

“Both are similar because both situations have flat tires. But one of them knows what a flat tire feels like and the other one thinks they are just on a bumpier road today.”

“Can we have a Rueben without meat, please? Yeah, a sauerkraut grilled cheese. Dressing is good.”

“Those kids are cute.”

 

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