Carving Stories from Trees- Our Home

The Highline Canal is a long trail sided next to a creek throughout Denver’s southside suburbs, 71 miles to be exact. It connects different cities together through the paved and unpaved walking trail, lining itself with cottonwood trees and bushes as tall as we were. Although the purpose of the highline canal was to provide irrigation through the man-made waterway, it was dry most of the time. For us, it didn’t provide irrigation; it provided recreation.

My brother and I walked through the winding roads of our quaint neighborhood, a brand-new development built on the borders of the sacred greenery of the Highline Canal. Scratch that- the yellowry of the Highline Canal. We walked up the dirt hill to reach the yellow sticks and the leafless trees that grew along the trail until we found a denseness that suited us.

Rewind one year. Mom and dad would drive my brother and I to the spot where our new house was being built. We got out of the car, onto the future street on which we would live, and looked at the giant, square hole in the ground. Dirt. Everywhere.

They told us, “This is where our house will be. It will be painted blue, and have a red door.” I tried to imagine what my new house would look like. I thought it was strange that our house would have a red door, this color yelled anger at me, which is how I felt about moving from the home I’d known my whole short life. My life, as I knew it, was being displaced. Into a neighborhood I didn’t know. Into a school I didn’t know. With the people that were forcing my displacement.

Fast forward. To the denseness. To the foliage. To the nature, which belonged to my brother and I, alone. Once we found the perfect spot, a little opening within the branches, within the sticks and the grass, we built our home. Our home was here, not in the blue house with the red door. Here, we could imagine our own spaces and create our own niches. Here, we made the rules and decided who we wanted to be. It might have been different day to day. I was usually a mother, cooking dinner for the family in the patch of small twigs near the center of our home. I had on my pretend oven and pretend oven mitts. Other days I was a teacher, ordering my brother to sit at his desk, a little spot in the corner amongst the grass. I put on my pretend glasses and taught out of my little blue notebook, telling my brother to take notes.

When we got bored of our home, we would go on an exploration journey on the trail to find another one. Sometimes we’d get distracted by the creatures we’d see. Once we came upon a turtle, which my brother named Speedy. He was our comrade for a day or two, until we lost him and found a new comrade to replace him, like our pretend pet that would follow us around. We found walking sticks one day and became original Settlers of the land. The Highline Canal was ours, and ours alone. Anyone we saw walking or running on the trail simply didn’t exist to us, for it was our world, and we made it fit what we needed it to be. Our home.

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Food, Inc

For my Sociology class, we had to watch the documentary, Food Inc. This documentary discusses the many ways that food operates in our society- how it’s grown, produced, sold, and eaten. This movie goes deeper than surface level, though, focusing not just on food and eating, but on what we’re allowed to say and know about the food we eat. Through this film, we are able to use the Social Imagination to understand the relationship of food between the larger social forces and the individuals that purchase and eat it. Throughout the years, our relationship with food has changed drastically- the way we eat has changed more in the last 50 years than the last 10,000 years (Kenner). The way we eat now has become a norm that we accept, because we don’t know anything different.

From this film, we can see how food can be related to on a Social Conflict Paradigm, which sees social life as a competition and focuses on the distribution of resources, power, and inequality. During “The Dollar Menu” section of the film, we see a poor family with a mother, father, and two young girls. They don’t have time to cook because they leave at 6am to go to work and don’t get home until 9 or 10. So, they use the small amount of money they have to buy hamburgers from the dollar menu. The mom says, “When you only have a dollar to spend, and two kids to feed, what would you do?” They can buy a hamburger for $1.00 or they can go to the grocery store and wouldn’t even be able to buy a head of lettuce for $1.00. The husband, who is almost forced to eat these horrible foods packed with sugar, salt, and fat now has diabetes due to his diet, and needs to spend hundreds of dollars on his medication. It is obvious that the large, rich, powerful food institutions are benefiting from how food works in our society, while those who don’t have a lot of money lose, big time. The way these hamburgers are made in the factories is a whole different story. Apparently when we eat a hamburger, we are eating the meat from a thousand different cows (Kenner). What?!?

I’m just going to go right out and ask the question- are we poisoning the lower class? The movie states that 1 in 3 Americans born after 2000 will contract early onset diabetes- and in minorities the rate is 1 in 2 (Kenner). The biggest predictor of obesity is income level as well- those who are in the lower economic class are more prone to obesity- and as we can see from this movie, it is because the foods that are affordable are unhealthy, and even poisonous. Of course, the industry blames obesity on a crisis of “personal responsibility” (Kenner). As I sit at Whole Foods to do my homework, I think about how privileged I am to have the ability to choose to eat foods that are organic, range free, grass fed, and healthy. Even still, I have a hard time purchasing a seven dollar salad due to my bank account. After watching this film I feel like I have a moral obligation to help change the way we think about food, and advocate for more honesty in our society’s food practices.

What are your thoughts? Have you seen this documentary? How can we change the way society in America interacts with how food is grown, made, and eaten?

Kenner, Robert, et al. Food, Inc. [Los Angeles, CA] Magnolia Home Entertainment, 2009.

Embrace Your Muse

“You will know that you have found your muse when you encounter a force that makes you feel courageous enough to broaden the range of your creativity. The presence of this force will erase your self-doubt and motivate you to give your thoughts and feelings form.”

“If you surround yourself with people who support you, keep a pen and paper handy, immerse yourself in culture, and brainstorm frequently, you will soon reconnect with your muse.”

-Madisyn Taylor

Every day I get emailed an inspirational little tid-bit from a site called Daily Om. I don’t always get around to reading them, but yesterday I read the email and the subject was about Embracing your Muse. As an aspiring writer, and a human in general, I am very curious about inspiration- how inspiration works, how to be inspired, how to express myself in what inspires me. I’m so glad I read this article because it inspired me to think about what my muses are- what motivates me to have that creative spark.

I’d definitely have to say one of my greatest muses is God. I am inspired and awed by God’s work in my life on a daily basis, and what he has gotten me through in the last 10 years of my life. I have experienced pain, hurt, loss, death, grief, addiction, depression… you name it. I believe these struggles that I went through helped me become a stronger person, and that God got me through them and brought me to where I am today. This last year has been a spiritual journey for me, and I feel like I am closer to God now than I have ever been, and I feel truly blessed.

But let’s go back to those painful experiences for a moment. The times that I wrote the most and seemed to have the most inspiration was when I was going through the hardest times of my life- especially the death of my grandmother and heart break. At those times I didn’t know what else to do with myself- I was brimming with sadness and pain, and the only thing I knew what to do with these emotions was to write it down on paper. Some of my most meaningful poetry and creative expressions were written during these times. And now, I embrace these difficult times and feel grateful for them, because I have experiences that will help me be a better person and writer.

In my opinion, being a writer is all about experiences and story telling. I’m inspired all the time by books- I think about how the writer came up with the ideas they wrote about, and what they experienced in their actual lives to be inspired to write those stories. My new goal is to remain aware for when things come up that inspire me or strike my curiosity. I try to always have a notebook with me so I can write down ideas or thoughts I want to explore. From now on, I will embrace my muse(s), remain curious, and explore environments that support my creativity.

Vulnerability

What do you do when the anxiety you have for no known reason fills your stomach up to your neck up to your head with an unbearable weight which weighs you down with the sensation of sloth, an inability to move or act and all you can do is just sit there and stare? All you can think about is how anxious you are because that is all you can feel, a mad cycle attached with immense difficulty to escape. Surveillance is a substantial way to be brought out of this. When one is being watched, especially by a superior or boss, one must at least act like they are busy or getting work done. When one is around equals, there is a “fitting in” aspect, a joining of a conversation or activity. Both of these can usually get yourself out of your head full of maddening anxiety. Right now I am sitting at a desk writing about it, which probably looks like I’m working to the naked eye of a passerby. But sometimes writing about it exacerbates the anxiety because you are focusing your mind more in on it, the problem at hand. Yet it does help the understanding of it a little more. “Know thyself.”

Vulnerability scares me. I’m afraid to show people my words. I’m afraid of what they think. Have I put myself on too high of a pedestal? What if I’m not up to par? My words are my vulnerability, a complete expression of me. Maybe I don’t want people to know me. Maybe I like to keep people at a safe distance- not necessarily to keep myself safe from them, but to keep them safe from me.

Something

“Stream-of-consciousness writing a la Jack Kerouac is a meditation tool. Writing about regrets over the past or fears of the future, no.”

Feelings hypnotize unsatisfied ruler of my brain. Please don’t come down here there is really something wrong with my brain. Today, at least. Well, most days. Unconventional, unacceptable as “normal” let me apologize now before you decide to run away. Sometimes I wish I could run away, take a vacation and escape from the pounding confusion, lifting the fog that’s in my head. I used to be afraid to showcase these things, people wouldn’t understand. But still face to face I have to pretend that I belong in this world with these socially acceptable behaviors. I really have no idea what to do.

Plans

I was going to… “told” I was going to be a straight A student. I was going to go to college, graduate, and have an excellent, fulfilling and good paying career. I was going to find a nice, young, good looking christian man, my prince to marry and lose my virginity to and have babies. I was going to be a fashion designer, I was going to be an Olympic Ice Skater. I was going to be a famous author. I was going to travel the world, be fluent in Spanish, and backpack around Europe. I was going to space. I was going to be a violinist. I was going to be in a band. I was going to change the world. I was going to live the American Dream. I was told I could do anything I put my mind to, that I would just have to believe it, and it would just somehow ‘happen.’ Out of no where. I don’t know, maybe that’s why I never went anywhere, because I just waited for things to happen magically without actually doing. What did I expect it to be? I. Love. D. I don’t know what I expected it to be. It just happened so fast. A feeling I’d never felt before. Maybe I expected more, but deep down I knew it wouldn’t be forever. I did expect it to last longer than it did. But in hindsight, I’m glad it didn’t.
But I didn’t… I didn’t plan for him to find another girl so fast. I didn’t plan on him breaking my heart in half. I didn’t plan on dropping out of college through this. And turning to chemicals to numb myself and be able to fall asleep. I didn’t plan on moving out of my best friends’s. I didn’t plan on getting so emotionally involved that I couldn’t think about anything else, do anything else. It still takes up a lot of my ind, 2 years later, almost like an obsession. Especially with what I’m going through currently. I wish it didn’t happen at all sometimes. That I never met him. That my mom didn’t take me to that party that night. I didn’t plan on falling in love with him, to let my whole being, revolve around him. For him to end up fucking her. Marrying her. Having twins with her. Leaving me in the dust. It makes me sick writing about it. I literally vomited the first time he told me about it. I knew something was up, too. And I was all the way in Fort Collins, at my cousin’s house whom  I barely knew because I “had” to move out of my place. It made me physically ill. Shaking uncontrollably. Why did I still talk to him? I didn’t plan on still being attached to him.

No Longer

Do you think you can hurt me still? I’m not going to let you. Do you think I’m going to continue to let this shit phase me? Well I’m not. Maybe the old me would, but I don’t give two shits about what they say behind my back. What you say behind my back. You think your ignoring me scares me? That playing games with my head is okay? That’s fine, keep going, it will only make me stronger in the end. I have already accepted what I should have realized long before… this meant nothing to you. I was safe to you, your security blanket. Maybe you stayed with me this long out of obligation. You see, that doesn’t work for me. Your deception and manipulation can no longer be a tool against me, I will not be brought down to your level now or ever. I deserve to be someone’s everything. I deserve honesty, not humiliation. I will have fire and passion, and love that’s returned, equally. I will be someone’s heart, even if that means breaking my own. Don’t worry, I won’t call you, I won’t fall for your mind tricks any more. I won’t be the first to break this time. I didn’t want this. I wanted us to be okay, to be mutual, to be civil. Especially with the close proximity we must be around each other. I tried, probably too hard, to make it right, so don’t get all butt hurt when it doesn’t work out your way.  The last time we spoke, you said we’d be friends. We’d be happy for each other and supportive as well. The next day, you act like I have a bug on my face. You heard things about me, and changed your mind I suppose. Yeah this hurt for a bit, knowing that someone who called me their soul mate could be as cold as this, but I think I’m getting used to it by now. No longer will I let you hurt me, no longer will I let you rent space for free in my head. I am detaching myself emotionally, letting myself move on, can’t think about the past, only about a future of bettering myself. Maybe I owe you a thanks for showing me how. How to let go, how to move on, and the need to love myself first. I hope you do the same, I don’t wish ill upon you, even though I think I deserve to have hatred towards you. You see, I didn’t grow up that way. Maybe I should have grown thicker skin earlier, but where I come from you don’t treat people you say ‘I love you’ with such malice and disgrace. Sometimes it makes me sick just thinking about it, how I fell for it all over again. But this time will be different, this time I won’t budge and go back with false hopes to have my heart hammered bloody all over again.

Dear God…

Someone asked me… Write down a question that you would ask God if you could. And write about it for 5 minutes.

Why did you make humans? What was your purpose?

I’ve heard many theories on the meaning of life, or our purpose I guess. I think for you it’s to Glorify you, help others, and walk in your path… But is that really the meaning? Why did you create us- These beings that can cause so much hurt and hate and evil… But also good. Were you bored? Did you do it simply to see if you could? Were you lonely? Did you need someone to talk to, relate to, to philosophize with? Why did you make this life so hard for humans though? So much of life is struggles and pain and suffering- some ask if it’s even worth it. You could’ve made a perfect earth. But that would probably be boring too. You make us go through pain, anxiety, and suffering so we know how to get through the tough things the next time they happen- so we can grow- so we know what happiness truly means. Are you proud of the race you created? Or do humans just make you cry? Is this what you expected out of us? Out of me? Have I let you down or do I make you smile?

The Rehab Means Something to Me.

The rehab means something to me. It’s a place. It’s a metaphor. It’s a turning point. It represents the point between two lines in my life that are vastly different. But I’m the same me, the same Jordan. The first line includes childhood. School. Happiness. But then destruction. The destruction led to Events and Addictions that couldn’t be turned around without drastic measures. There were many attempts. Many hopes. But many failures. The failures soon led to Hopelessness and Misery. Until rehab became the only salvageable option. The image of my grandmother keeps coming to mind. She was one of my hopes and inspirations of turning my life around. All she wanted for me was happiness, which meant sobriety and a relationship with God. So, rehab. The point that changed my life around. Made me able to stop the Destruction, especially the Self Destruction. Gave me back my hope and courage. Led me to where I am in my life now. On a Spiritual Journey, going through Personal Growth every day that I never knew could be imagineable. Now I couldn’t imagine it any other way. Hope, Faith, Courage. My Grandma must be looking down on me with tears of joy rolling down her rosy cheek, which makes me smile and tear up as well. I have so much potential. The world is at my hands and feet. I can do anything and everything as long as I can dream and imagine it then work my ass of for it. I am so blessed not only to be alive but to be well and happy and on my way to whatever I can dream of.