A college student

At first I though it was strange that I still didn’t know who I am at the age of 20. I don’t know my style, my favorite color, my style of music, how I enjoy acting, and what I wanted to be perceived as. I thought that I should already have my ducks in a row, a well paying job working toward that white picket fence one day, and a sure plan on how I wanted to live my life. 

If that’s the way I am suppose to be at 20, then I’m sorry. I still can’t pick between the color burnt orange and peach, I enjoy wearing bright clothes one day, black the next, and a tee shirt and jeans the following. I still enjoy the heavy metal bands my family thought I outgrew since the black hair dye phases, and I have too many dreams to just pick one job and settle. 

My life may be a mess, but this mess is beautiful. I don’t live by the books, I create them. My words are powerful and my actions magnificent. I’m not within the lines, but I draw new ones. 

I enjoy life and plan to keep living it this way because this is how I see me: the crazy, indecisive, emotional mess that wants to be an author, a coffee shop/ bar owner, and a rescue farmer at the same time. The girl who actually wears boot cut jeans, yet, can rock some combat boots. The girl who’s mind is high within the clouds while the rest settle for the concrete.

We Real Cool ~ Gwendolyn Brooks

I’ve recently made a blog post about the significance of the poem “The Boy Died in My Alley” by Gwendolyn Brooks, but her work is too amazing to pass up the opportunity to write about one more.

Her poem “We Real Cool” is perhaps one of her more noted poem, with its stylistic elements and many interpretations.

I fell in love with the poem because it was something that kept me guessing. At one point I would think I had it figured out and could justify why and how I saw the “We” in the poem, however, new and different ideas would constantly be sent into my brain as I was going through my everyday life. Who is “We?”

°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°

We Real Cool ~ Gwendolyn Brooks

THE POOL PLAYERS.
SEVEN AT THE GOLDEN SHOVEL.

We real cool. We
Left school. We

Lurk late. We
Strike straight. We

Sing sin. We
Thin gin. We

Jazz June. We
Die soon.

°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°

From reading this poem, I interpret it as being written as if we are the speaker looking in on seven kids in a pool house. Brooks dramatically creates the scene of this poem within her first two lines, which seem to be stage directions, which also work to foreshadow the rest of the poem: “The Pool Players, / Seven at the Golden Shovel.”

In the game of pool or gambling as a whole, the number seven is considered lucky, being in coincidence with there being seven kids. The kids in the pool house are young, still young enough to be in school, this is shown through the word “golden.” The word shovel also foreshadows the ending of the poem that says “We / Jazz June. We / Die soon” being related to one’s death and burial.

I wondered why Brooks wanted to end her poem with the words “We / Die soon.” At first I thought it as a way for her to sum up the lives of the kids, as if she believed that the kids were doing risky behavior that lead to their premature death. But over time I began to feel that Brooks wrote “We / Die soon” as a way to share the kids idea that they shouldn’t be stuck in a school, learning something that they didn’t see as useful to them, and instead wanted to enjoy the outside world and wanted to have a different experience.

Throughout the poem Brooks break up the lines with the Pronoun “we”. This was done to allow readers to think about the next assumption about the kids through the speaker. I saw each stanza and line as a way for the readers to interpret their own ideas about what these kids are doing. I came across an interview of Gwendolyn Brooks where she spoke on how she was inspired to write this poem. Within the interview she mentioned how people began to interpret this poem differently. I saw lines 8-9 “We / Jazz June” to simply be about a group of kids enjoying Jazz music and the weather of that month, however, others saw those lines to be about sex. Jazz meaning something sexual, and June being a female’s name. Brooks didn’t say whether one was correct over another and instead left it open. Allowing readers to make their own assumptions about the kids as if we are the speaker encountering their actions.

So what else could the pronoun “We” be alluding to? Could “We” be more than just the seven kids at the pool house? Who are these masked humans without any names or reference? As readers we can only interpret what we feel to be correct. I had one of my roommates read this poem and she said that it was like the “We’s” in the poem are people growing up within a gang. The beginning of the poem “We real cool. We/ Left school” is the beginning of their lives in the gang, which then moves towards their death at the end of the poem from gang violence.

In the end, poems and other art are for us to interpret. How can we say that one idea about a poem is correct over the other? Sometimes even the artist is unsure of how they want to interpret the meaning of their work. Gwendolyn Brooks may have let the readers decide the “We” in the poem because she wanted us to be the speaker. What assumptions we make is up to us and how we are able to connect the words, lines, and stanzas, with a deeper and more meaningful idea.

Source:

Cover Image: http://blackpoemusic.tumblr.com/post/52406432130/we-real-cool-we-left-school-we-lurk-late-we

Poem: http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/we-real-cool

Cucumber Face Mask

My roommates and I decided to do some cleansing before bed tonight and made a cucumber face mask! It was such a random, yet pleasant experience that put a great end to a stressful day.

It was super easy to make and only required two cucumbers, 2-3 tablespoons all purpose flour, and a quarter cup of water.

To make the mask peal and slice the cucumbers into small chunks. Next you want to smash the cucumber cubes until they begin to turn to mash. After that use a fork and pick out all the seeds.

Once the cucumber is prepped, add in flour and water. The amount of each may very due to the size of the cucumbers, but don’t worry, this recipe can easily be fixed. Mix well.

Be sure the mask isn’t too runny, if you can’t place it on your face without it running down your face, add more flour.

To apply, use your fingers to smooth over your face, be sure to leave an area around your eyes so they won’t get irritated.

Leave mask on until the entire thing becomes hard and dry. This will take around 10 minutes.

To remove, wash face off with warm water while making circles with your fingers over your skin.

After the mask, your face will feel smooth and your pores will be able to breathe (which feels amazing). Use the  mask at a max of once a week to be sure skin won’t become irritated.

Enjoy!!!

Taking Things One Step at a Time.

For everyone who will read this, I hope you all have dreams that you reach for each and every day. For me, I have many. Some may seem more realistic than others, however, I strive for each one and plan on one day being able to say I made these few dreams become a reality.

From the time I was in middle school I was fascinated by the crazy imaginations that novelists acquired. They seemed to create magic with a simple click of the computer keys. When I was a freshman in high school I realized my dream of one day being an author and having the same kind of artistry as the writers I came across through their literature. I remember in one of my classes in high school, the students had to write out ‘what you would become if they could never fail,’ I instantly wrote out becoming an author with no hesitation. Of course everyone else in my class had a more elaborate idea–being an open heart surgeon, becoming president, or a professional poker player–but I had my heart set on one idea.

As I became older and neared my senior year, I often was asked ‘what do you want to do when you grow up?’ I was nervous to reply because how many students want their career to be writing books for the rest of their lives? I didn’t know what I was going to do if my parents told me my career choice was one they wouldn’t approve of; my parents approval meant everything to me.

Finally, when my mother and father came up to me one day while I was studying for class they asked, ‘have you thought about what you would want to major in when you start college in the fall?” I mustered up the confidence and replied, ‘yes, I’d like to study creative writing.’ Of course that answer wasn’t detailed enough for them and so they asked, ‘how will you use that degree?’ So now I really had to tell them. How would they react to their daughter wanting to write instead of being a business-person like my brothers?

After a ruffle through the papers in front of me, I slowly looked up while saying ‘I want to be a writer.’ They paused for a second before asking ‘what kind of writer?’ I told them about my longtime desire to be an author. I told them about Charlotte Brontë and F. Scott Fitzgerald and how I wanted to create lasting narratives like them. I told them about the classes I could attend and how I could work another job in the meantime in order to stay afloat, and what schools I was already interested in that offered creative writing as a major.

Needless to say, I stunned my parents. They weren’t shocked at my major choice, or by the fact that I actually enjoy English classes, but instead shocked that I had everything planned out without telling them squat. They just looked at me and said ‘well it looks like our work here is done.’ That was the most amazing few words I’ve ever heard my parents say. They actually approved of my life and how I wanted to live it. For so long I had to deal with the disapproval of my parents and coping with the ideas that they had something else in mind. But now they feel like they lead me in the right direction and stand by my choices. They didn’t mention anything that had to do with the amount of money I could make off this degree and career, only how they could help me get there and support me along the way.

In that moment I felt a true connection with my parents as an adult. It was like the chains were lifted and I was now living my own life. I’ll admit, it left me paralyzed at first, but I’m learning the ways of being a free thinking adult. And now I continue down this path, one step at a time.

Source:

Cover Image: http://booklover.tumblr.com/post/65225654191/teachingliteracy-wallpaper-books-by

Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad

Hello everyone!

Summer is ending soon but that doesn’t mean salads are completely off the table.

Recently, I really started to LOVE quinoa! I’ve alwIMG_7100ays been a lover of rice and grains but didn’t begin my affair with quinoa until after this recipe (now I’m obsessed).

This recipe is super easy to make and will take you about 40 minutes to prepare. The colors in this salad are perfect for fall and will satisfy your hunger one hundred percent. This recipe will serve four hungry people but will also be great as a side dish where you could probably get six people happily served.

I apologize for the poor lighting in these pictures ahead of time–I moved into an apartment and their is a bright yellow light right over the kitchen area that doesn’t really do to much to make this recipe look presentable.

As I always say in my recipe directions, please feel free to make this your own. Add more or less cranberries if you’d like, or even add in slices of basil if you’re feeling extra classy with your cooking today 😉

For this butternut squash quinoa recipe you will need:IMG_7079 (1)

  • one butternut squash (big enough to make 3 cups chopped)
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 cup quinoa (uncooked)
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 3 Tbsp. toasted pumpkin seeds
  • salt and pepper (the amount is up to you)

Balsamic Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tps. honey
  • 1 tps. dijon mustard
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • salt and pepper (once again, up to you)

Directions:

  1. Oven get’s preheated to 400F.
  2. After butternut squash is chopped, put in a medium size bowl with olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix well and spread over a cookie sheet and roast in the oven for 25 minutes until squash is tender and golden brown.
  3. While squash is cookin’ away, rinse quinoa by placing in a small bowl with water. Mix with your hands (water will turn a silky white). The easiest way to drain the water is to cup one of your hands under the edge of the bowl and allow water to flow gently around and through your fingers, being careful the quinoa won’t fall out. Repeat until water is clear.
  4. In a medium pot, bring 1 1/2 cups of water to a boil along with the quinoa. Reduce the heat to a simmer and partially cover for 20 minutes or until water is fully absorbed.
  5. To assemble the salad, combine cooked quinoa, roasted squash, cranberries, and pumpkin seeds in a medium bowl. Mix in the dressing and allow salad to cool before serving. (add salt and pepper as you please).

Balsamic dressing:

  1. Whisk in all ingredients in a small bowl until combined. Add salt and pepper as you wish.

The Boy Died in My Alley ~Gwendolyn Brooks

I came across Gwendolyn Brooks’ poem The Boy Died in My Alley while attending college here in Baltimore. The recent events that have taken place in this city resonates within the words of this poem. Brooks uses amazing word choice to describe the setting of the Boy’s death and to put the narrator’s emotions into words. This poem will forever be one of my favorites from Gwendolyn Brooks, as I hope it will be for you.

This poem brings up these ideas and memories to me. The narrator not only speaks of the violence, but shows the side of one who could have stopped it but failed to do so. Brooks uses amazing language within the lines of this poem and speaks from many different views. She creates a message of equality among people, however, speaks on such a dark topic to get that idea across.

••••••••••••••••

Gwendolyn Brooks, “The Boy Died in My Alley”

to Running Boy

The Boy died in my alley
without my Having Known.
Policeman said, next morning,
"Apparently died Alone."

"You heard a shot?" Policeman said.
Shots I hear and Shots I hear.
I never see the Dead.

The Shot that killed him yes I heard
as I heard the Thousand shots before;
careening tinnily down the nights
across my years and arteries.

Policeman pounded on my door.
"Who is it?" "POLICE!" Policeman yelled.
"A Boy was dying in your alley.
A Boy is dead, and in your alley.
And have you known this Boy before?"

I have known this Boy before.
I have known this boy before, who ornaments my alley.
I never saw his face at all.
I never saw his futurefall.
But I have known this Boy.

I have always heard him deal with death.
I have always heard the shout, the volley.
I have closed my heart-ears late and early.
And I have killed him ever.

I joined the Wild and killed him
with knowledgeable unknowing.
I saw where he was going.
I saw him Crossed.  And seeing,
I did not take him down.

He cried not only "Father!"
but "Mother!
Sister!
Brother."
The cry climbed up the alley.
It went up to the wind.
It hung upon the heaven
for a long
stretch-strain of Moment.

The red floor of my alley
is a special speech to me.


••••••••••••••••

Brooks speaks about the kinds of evil in the world — the ones who commit the crime and the ones who don’t react. She capitalizes certain words that she wants to stand out. Boy is capitalized and she doesn’t give him a name. In the second stanza. Brooks capitalizes the word “Alone” which creates an ominous mood for this poem off the bat. The narrator answers the cops question “You heard a shot?” with the phrase “Shots I hear and shots I hear. / I never see the dead.” alluding to the fact that she did not react to the shots heard because she has heard so many in her life that she referred to in the second stanza.

I love the word choice that came with “Careening tinnily down the nights/ across my years and arteries.” The word arteries rattled within me because of its grotesquery, yet it is the perfect word to end this stanza. It shapes the severity of the violence and how it has shaped and altered the mind of the narrator.

The word choice in the fourth stanza leads the readers to believe that the narrator has been confronted about violence before in this kind of way. “Policeman pounded on my door. / ‘Who is it?’ ‘POLICE!’ Policeman yelled.” The word “pounded” along with the reply “Who is it?” seem to contradict each other in their urgency. The knock that can be referred to as “pounding” is something that would worry or instill fear in the resident, however, the narrator seems calm as if this is old hat.

The Fifth stanza beings forth the idea that the narrator has known “this Boy” before. She mentions “I never saw his face at all. / I never saw his futurefall. / But I have known this Boy.” I see the word “futurefall” as if Brooks is trying to say freefall to instil the idea that the Boy’s life was taken instantaneously and has pushed him back into a freefall where he fell to the ground.

The sixth is the stanza shows the remorse the narrator feels from not helping save the Boy’s life. She mentions that she has heard of his struggle and was able to close her “heart-ears” to continue on with her life. However, at the end for the stanza, she feels that she has killed him due to her lack motivation to help the situation.

The next section is powerful with a reference towards Jesus on the cross. Brooks writes “I saw him Crossed. And seeing, / I did not take him down.” The narrator’s alludes to the fact that she didn’t help the Boy when he was in need, and referred to him as being “Crossed.” This lead me to believe that she feels that she could have saved him but instead allowed him to suffer.

In the second to last stanza the Boy is crying out to his loved ones and “It hung upon the heaven / for a long / stretch-strain of Moment.” This signals the point when the Boy is no longer living. The last two lines of the poem simply read “The red floor of my alley/ is a special speech to me.” Brooks uses the word “floor of my alley” to describe to area of the Boy’s death. Many wouldn’t think of an alley as a place with a floor, or would rather refer to it as the ground–something with less of a home feeling. This may have been used to show this area, in the narrator’s eyes, as her home. The space around her, the streets, the buildings, the alleys, is her home that has now been stained red with blood.

Sources
cover image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:2003-08-23_Early_morning_alley_in_Chicago.jpg
Poem: http://www.writing.upenn.edu/~afilreis/88v/brooks.html

Oh the struggle

For all my fellow curly/thick haired men and women, this will be old news.

Of course on the day that I am attending a wedding my hair decided it wants to be spiteful. My hair with product in looks like I have straws poking out of my head. Then I decided to straighten it… bad idea. Now it is radiating a mile away from my face because humidity+hot iron=frizzy puffy mess.

I love my hair but sometimes I’m sure it hates me back. I guess today will be a ponytail type of day 😦

Simple way to cook up tofu!!

For many people, tofu is something they stay clear from, but why? It’s delicious, nutritious, simple to cook, and packed with protein. For those of you who wonder about tofu, here I have provided a super simple recipe to cook this up and make it taste DELICIOUS!!


The tofu I used is House Foods Organic Tofu Cutlet, and this can be found in most grocery stores. I first started by cutting the tofu up into half inch chunks, but please cut to your own liking.

Next, in a medium pan, I coated the bottom with a generous amount of olive oil, just enough the the entire pan would have a thin layer so the tofu won’t stick while cooking.

Then I added in one table spoon of premium sesame oil and one table spoon of low sodium soy sauce to add flavor.

Once I added in the cup tofu, I turned the burner to a low-medium temperature to be sure everything cooks but didn’t stick to the pan. It took me about 10 minutes to get a perfect golden brown color to the tofu (but be sure to not overlook so the tofu won’t get hard).

After everything is all said and done, add your tofu to your favorite dishes: rice, burritos, quesadillas, or salads (be adventurous!).


Enjoy!!!!