Broken-down Poetry: August 2010


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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Life updates, August 2010

I haven't blogged to just blog in a while. I've written a lot about PLC; I've written a few creative pieces, but I haven't just blogged.

Granted, most of the time I blog I have some muse to inspire me. I'm muse-less. I'm reading an essay by Ray Bradbury about "feeding and caring for your Muse," but it hasn't helped. I'll be back to school soon and will have plenty to write about. So, no worries. (Were you worried?)

But, stuff has been going on, so I'll update you.


1. I'm in America. Yes, I'm adjusting well. I've spent 20 years and two months in America; two months away isn't going to do much difference. I wish it did, sort of. I wish I viewed my life completely differently (but for the better) now that I'm home. I wish I was more thankful for my freedoms. I wish I spent my money on the children in Iraq and not on Old Crown coffee.

2. I have a boyfriend. For those of you who don't know the story, Nate and I started talking when I was in Iraq - the first week I was there, actually. We had a few classes together at IWU. (Fun fact: one of my first memories of Nate was when he beat me in Scrabble. Bah!) We're "official" now, and have been for 3 1/2 weeks.

3. I'm going back to IWU soon. I don't know the exact date, but I'm heading back early for Sojourn workshops. I am the managing editor this year (second in charge, I guess), so I get to plan said workshops. It's kind of fun. But also extremely stressful and hectic and frustrating.

4. I have a million half-read books on my bedside table. I started reading a few books in Iraq and in transit (Jayber Crow, Teaching a Stone to Talk) and started a few more now that I'm home (The Zen in the Art of Writing, The Copy-Editing and Headline Handbook), but I've only finished a few this summer. I'm disappointed in myself. Last summer, 19 books. This summer, 3.

5. I was in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette this morning. I was interviewed about my internship. You should read it, then feel led to donate to PLC and #RemedyMission.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

On health care in Iraq

Health care - or "Obamacare" - is still a buzz word around here. Though having been out of the country for two months, and completely shutting myself off from American politics, I knew that the tension of the healthcare reform would continue whether I was paying attention or not.

I don't want to talk about the U.S.'s health care issues. At this point I'm ready to throw up my hands and say, qué será será. What will be, will be.

But I want to talk about Iraq's health care issues because they're bigger, and more dire, but there are people out there trying to take care of those problems.

I've blogged before about Dr. Aso Faiq, the only pediatric cardiologist in Kurdistan. I've told you that he can't go to Europe for training because he cannot be approved for a visa, even a 4-day one. I also learned that though Iraq lacks pediatric cardiologists, there are adult cardiologists in the country. But the causes of heart disease in Iraq are not the same as they are in America (high blood pressure, obesity, inactivity). To be blunt, the kids born with congenital (in utero) heart disease die before they can see an adult cardiologist.

So ... this is where we're at.

Thousands of children in line for heart surgery - surgeries they cannot receive in-country because doctors don't have the training. This is why organizations like Preemptive Love exist, to "eradicate the backlog of Kurdish and Arab children in line for lifesaving heart surgery."

Some die without getting their hearts checked out.


I'm excited: this week the International Children's Heart Foundation is traveling to Sulaimaniah, Iraq to perform 30 heart surgeries and train local doctors. This Remedy Mission is one step toward getting those thousands of kids into surgery in-country; no longer will sick kids have to cross borders for heart surgeries.

Preemptive Love still needs more money to bring the team in to perform heart surgeries and train doctors. We're close, but not quite there.

To put this into perspective: Preemptive Love sends about 20 kids to heart surgery in a year. Remedy Mission will do 1.5x as much as PLC alone can do in one year.

Your donations will help improve health care in Iraq.
And save 30 kids' lives!


* photo by, of course, the wonderful Lydia Bullock

Monday, August 9, 2010

Creative Writing: Untitled

Yes, a preface: I can't title this, because if I did, it'd be really cheesy. It'd probably be something like The Words Didn't Come or He's Perfect. Oh barf. 

Here's the thing about writing fiction: it's fiction. Ha, it's not true. But in some regards, it is true. I can't write something that doesn't have some truth in it, or something I've seen in real life, etc. But you all are going to read it and think that it's absolute truth. I know you, audience; I know some of you will. You'll say the "she" is me and the "he" is Nathan. And you'll write some stupid comment saying either "aww" or "oh barf." 

So just read it as fiction. And don't leave any awkward comments.



She clutched her mug. She took a sip. Lukewarm coffee. She set the mug down. Pause. She took another sip. Her friend asked her, "What's he like?" She thought. But couldn't answer. The words didn't come. She knew in her head. But she couldn't say it. 

She couldn't say how much she loves the way he cuts his hair; the way he dresses; the way he smiles at her; the way he plays the drums on her arm; the way he talks more sentimentally at night than in the day; the way he tastes like beer; the way he pronounces her name; the way he laughs when he tells stories; the way he rambles on ...; the way he cares about what she cares about; the way he's over the top; the way he's just enough; the way his smell clings to her clothes after they've hugged goodbye.

When she's asked, she cannot answer. Not how she should. "He's perfect," she says. And leaves it at that.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Phantom Tollbooth, pp. 118-119

"No one paid attention to how things looked, and as they moved faster and faster everything grew uglier and dirtier, and as everything grew uglier and dirtier they moved faster and faster, and at last a very strange thing began to happen. Because nobody cared, the city slowly began to disappear. Day by day the buildings grew fainter and fainter, and the streets faded away, until at last it was entirely invisible. There was nothing to see at all."

"What did they do?" the Humbug inquired, suddenly taking interest in things.

"Nothing at all," continued Alec. "They went right on living here just as they'd always done, in the houses they could no longer see and on the streets which had vanished, because nobody had noticed a thing. And that's the way they have lived to this very day."

"Hasn't anyone told them?" asked Milo.

"It doesn't do any good," Alec replied, "for they can never see what they're in too much of a hurry to look for."

"Why don't they live in Illusions?" suggested the Humbug. "It's much prettier."

"Many of them do," he answered, walking in the direction of the forest once again, "but it's just as bad to live in a place where what you do see isn't there as it is to live in one where what you don't see is."

"Perhaps someday you can have one city as easy to see as Illusions and as hard to forget as Reality," Milo remarked.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Creative Writing: In Theory

Whenever I write fiction or creative nonfiction for my blog, I feel the need to preface it. So here I go.

I want to call this an outline. I have a concept for a story, but this is how far I got. It's kind of a character sketch, kind of not. I haven't decided who the girl in the story is - if she even needs an identity. Well. I'm digressing. Just read:


He took a sombre satisfaction in thinking that perhaps all along she had been nothing except what he had read into her. (This Side of Paradise, pp. 105-106)

She only liked Alex in theory. She liked the way he might have looked if he dressed the way she wanted him to. She liked the way he would take her out to her favorite restaurant and order her favorite wine and laugh at all her jokes and hold her hand by dessert. She liked how he would walk with her through the woods behind her house, down a path that didn’t really exist, and kiss her for the first time under the brightest moon she could imagine. She liked him for all of that, but Alex didn’t do any of those things. He didn’t even know how she spelled her name, much less her favorite wine.

Besides, she was with Sean and he had done all of those things, except that he wasn’t much fun to daydream about. Because when he takes her to her favorite restaurant, he orders her favorite wine without asking first, he laughs at her jokes but expects her to laugh at his, and he holds her hand from the appetizers to the chocolate cake. And when they walk down through the woods behind her house, the moon isn’t bright enough to keep her footing – she slips, but he catches her.