Apricots

I guess apricots have the ability to make me cry.

I have an overly romanticized relationship with most of the sweet and fleshy produce that I tend to consume. Mangoes remind me of cross-legged evenings in my older cousin’s house, giggling as he attempted to keep my plate full, trying to cut the brilliant red and yellow ovals faster than I ate them. He made sure to slice them with the peel on, making the entire activity fun-I would slowly push the fruit off of the peel with my tongue, then graze the leftover pulp with my bottom teeth and spend the rest of the night picking out the fibers from in between my teeth. Finally, he would give me the seed and I would try carefully and delicately to eat it over the sink, but the fruit juice always ended up running down the sides of my arms to my elbows.

Actually, most of the time, eating fruit is a family affair. Cherries, papaya, and watermelon are a must after a hearty summer dinner. Bananas are always a morning fruit, eaten with peanut butter or blended with milk and ice into a shake. Apples and strawberries are eaten during dinner, sliced into savory and fresh salads. Every bite expects a murmur of delight, a comment on its sweetness, color, or texture.

So last night, all alone at 1 am, when I picked up three apricots and pushed them open gently with my thumb, I can understand what washed over me. There is usually something quite lonely about eating alone, but this felt more quiet and solid than anything. Like it was supposed to happen solo.

They were so sweet and so bright I couldn’t believe it. I earnestly ate each half and I could feel my chest ache at the brilliance of these golden pods. It’s rare that I witness something so perfect that physical shivers run through my body. It’s been a while, and apathy has recently found a home in my chest.  A cool breeze through the window caressed my hair when I finished the fruit, and tears sprung to my eyes as my body realized what it had missed so much.

 

i want to write poetry and lorde gives me the confidence to start

Historically, poetry has been feminized, a literary production that is especially undermined when women and women of color write it. Assigning poetry this certain ‘feminine’ reputation has made it difficult for those women who choose to only publish poetry, but mystically, some of the most famous poets in history are men (and often white men). Discussing poetry in class made me wonder, what is classified as poetry? Does it have to have a certain repetition and rhythm, does it have to rhyme? Lorde mentions in another essay that poetry is the easiest writing to produce, women working long hours can scribble poetry on note pads or in the margins of books, and it is used as a form of expressing deep emotion-a coping mechanism for survival. Lorde introduces a completely new concept and theory to poetry, and it shifts away from the traditional European mode. My favorite line is “The white fathers told us, I think therefore I am; and the black mothers in each of us-the poet-whispers in our dreams, I feel therefore I can be free”. It’s this step towards teaching women of color that their emotions are valid, and that they can be proven easily by forming words and poetry that portray their experiences and what day to day realities forms them as women. There are so many international examples of poetry as resistance and survival, I think that currently my favorite example is the Pashtun woman’s “landay”.

Tum Aur Lahore

Queer Zenana

Despite the borders and histories and impossibilities etched into our lives, I still plan for when I’ll introduce you to Lahore and Lahore to you. I think you both would be able to share wounds, admire each other’s earrings, enjoy some alaichi chai

Your brown would look so beautiful surrounded by Lahore’s, but I’ve told myself over and over again that you and Lahore are not meant to meet, that sometimes circumstances are just so queer that even the safest softest closets cannot straighten them

But I plan still

To show you the long legs of Maall Road with the kind of stubble I know you’ll find sexy for its i-don’t-give-a-fuck flair; to slide with you into the inner crevices of the reddened walls of purana Lahore and spot that one blue kite flying amidst the orange heat; to feel the moist sponginess of the monsoon air; to tickle the…

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Reminders for Ramadan

Ramadan is Not a Poverty Stimulation Game 

“During Ramadan, rich non-Black Muslims in the diaspora reference Muslims in war-torn countries living in abject poverty to invoke feelings of guilt and gratitude for our own privileged lives. If we begin to construct Other Muslims as those we “save” this Ramadan, how are we acting as Westerners who reproduce the same exploitative power relations? How do we reduce oppressed Muslims to lessons in “suffering” when we talk about the suffering in Palestine, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria, etc? The desire to know the “Other” Muslim becomes a form of consumptive empathy. When our “empathy” becomes focused on consuming other people’s pain, it can no longer be characterized as empathy; it becomes a spectacle of suffering. It only further shifts the lens to those who witness struggle versus those who must survive while in constant struggle.

So this Ramadan, as you break fast night after night over warm meals, reflect on you. Reflect on the sacredness of these nights and on the ways in which the fast spiritually nourishes you. Realize that the fast is not an experiment for you to temporarily feel guilt for causing others to live in poverty. Realize that fasting is never intended to be a poverty simulation game.”

LIVING BY THE WORD

alice walker

“Some periods of our growth are so confusing that we don’t even recognize that growth is happening. We may feel hostile or angry or weepy and hysterical, or we may feel depressed. It would never occur to us, unless we stumbled on a book or a person who explained to us, that we were in fact in the process of change, of actually becoming larger, spiritually, than we were before. Whenever we grow, we tend to feel it, as a young seed must feel the weight and inertia of the earth as it seeks to break out of its shell on its way to becoming a plant. Often the feeling is anything but pleasant. But what is most unpleasant is the not knowing what is happening. Those long periods when something inside ourselves seems to be waiting, holding its breath, unsure about what the next step should be, eventually become the periods we wait for, for it is in those periods that we realize that we are being prepared for the next phase of our life and that, in all probability, a new level of the personality is about to be revealed.”

-Alice Walker

Summer Courses/Objectives

I am excited about my double major in Urban Ecology/Planning and Gender Studies. I just declared my majors this month, and I have only taken introductory courses for each subject. I have a strong interest for both majors, however my foundations regarding these backgrounds are very weak. Entering Urban Ecology, I was incredibly excited. I had just finished Radical Cities by Justin McGuirk before my introductory class with Professor Goldsmith, and it really fired me up-in a good way. I found myself interested reading about leftist movements in Latin America which converted old, corporate, and failed buildings and land into accessible and attractive housing for indigenous and working class populations. Further research showed me that urban planning theory can be incorporated into improving the condition of refugee camps. I took in how evil the field can be: policies have been created to further gentrification and modern segregation in poor neighborhoods, and zoning has helped perpetuate environmental racism and food deserts.

All of this research and excitement did little to prepare me for my second City and Metropolitan Planning class, where I realized that I did not have a fundamental understanding of what urban planning in Utah was. I had immense difficulty drawing a map of my neighborhood from memory, I had no idea how to use ArcGIS or ArcMaps, I didn’t know about city policies, laws, and enforcement, and I was ignorant of the fantastic green and sustainable movements which were happening locally. This second class introduced many new concepts to me. We were taught how to write a formal letter to the mayor as a planner, where to keep updated with the zoning practices in this city, and how to engage in City Council meetings (think about what happens in a typical town hall meeting with Leslie Knope).  More importantly, we were taught how to speak out against zoning policies that harm specific populations and benefit others. Although I gained a huge sum of knowledge, I also realized that my writing skills are sub-par, and I have a lot to do in order to catch up with my peers in this major.

As for Gender Studies, I excelled in my introductory class, however I immediately understood that my comprehension of feminist and literary theories is lacking. I cannot write too heavily about theory or movements, and my vocabulary is not academic enough. Although I did well, I knew that I would struggle in upper division courses if I did not take action to educate myself.

SO. This summer I am taking two courses, and I am dedicating every ounce of energy to learning and absorbing and writing in these classes:

  • Urban Environmental Planning and Theory (3100)
  • Gender and Sexuality in International Literature (5760)

The first class will provide me with a basic foundation, theory, and further knowledge. The second is going to (and honestly, already is) kick my ass. We are reading all of my favorite authors, however I do not have practice in writing about literary theory, post-colonialism, and feminist literature. This class is all about critical thinking, creative writing, and heavy analysis. I love it so far, but it is intimidating to be the youngest in the class, to obviously not be as developed academically as the other students.

This blog will be dedicated to me writing in depth about the authors and theories we are reading, and drawing in different themes in order to prepare for my big research paper due in a month. Hopefully, this will be supplemental and will motivate me to really sharpen my skills with every field I am lacking in!