A Haiku About Silly Putty (and other things)

You’re good at molding
to fit each container, but
What are you made of?

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Because You Can

Those who came before you
believed what they could—
what they had to—
to get you here.

You owe it to their legacy
not to fossilize their words,
but to plant them;
To grow and dream and expect
what those before you
never knew how to imagine.

If my Arabic could talk back to me:

You have the audacity
to sigh and roll your eyes at me
when I seem a little distant
or take some time to come when you call for me?

After you hid me in your closet
refused to be heard with me in public;
After you left me
shunned and neglected me;
And after all those years
When you wouldn’t speak with me
even when I called

Now somehow,
you expect me to leap back wholeheartedly
the moment you want me to be your little side bitch?

Well forgive me
if I take some time to warm up to the idea
If I have some trepidations
about touching your lips again.

Because bitch, I am beautiful.
Do you know how many artists
have drawn testaments to my infinite curves?
How many poets have blown their minds 

just trying to channel the shades
of sonics and meaning
resonating from my every syllable?
And the bits of me that felt too rough for your mouth—
that’s the stuff that music is built upon.

You had your chance with me, but do you even know what you turned down?

Nadia, ya habibti
You say you miss me
And I want to believe you
We can talk, and see where this goes
But I have to take this slow.

Things I Learned This Year Part 2 (Ongoing Growth and Stuff)

I usually wrap up the arbitrary time interval of the Gregorian calendar with some “Things I Learned post(s) (like thisthisthis, or this). This is the second chunk of Things from this year (catch up on Part 1).

We all have thoughts in our head that we didn’t put there ourselves. But it’s our responsibility to decide which of those guide our actions.

Empty mandates to “love yourself” are pretty useless, especially when they don’t address the real world environments and systems that contribute to self-hate. You don’t need need to meta-berate yourself for having insecurities. While you’re working through them, you can have a healthy, functional (if not quite loving) working relationship with yourself that allows you to live and love your life.

Don’t assume you don’t have something to teach someone with more status than you. Don’t assume you don’t have something to learn from someone with less status than you.

I don’t need a clearly articulated “good reason” for leaving a situation I don’t feel good about (personally or professionally). The good reasons become clear with a little distance.

Originality isn’t everything. Some of the most potent ideas are the ones that lots of people are thinking and not enough people are saying out loud.

Don’t underestimate how far you can get by reaching out to people with genuine excitement.

The work-in-progress version of myself can be worth sharing. I can be performing professionally and also beginning new phases of training. I can write about topics as I continue to learn about them. I can offer help with personal problems I’m also still working through. You don’t have to stay silent until you’re “finished” growing, or become stagnant once you’ve started speaking.

When you start getting real, some people will get closer, and others will back away. I’ve been lucky this year to have some wonderful humans in the former category, whose presence more than outweighs any superficial relationships I’ve lost.

The competition of who has the most correct/radical sociopolitical opinions can be a trap. Being critical is important, but I’m more interested in supporting and joining people putting something positive (and inevitably imperfect) into practice.

Being late to the (metaphorical) party isn’t a reason not to show up. Chances are once you’re there, you’ll realize lots of people are still arriving.

Don’t put people on pedestals.
People who are experts in one area might be terribly ignorant in another. Artists who have made brilliant work can also make crap. People who have done important social justice work can also be assholes or abusers.

It’s not fair to demand infallibility from people we respect, or to dispose of them as soon as they slip up. It’s dangerous to unconditionally accept ideas coming from people we respect. And it’s ironically dehumanizing to see people we respect as superheroes, overlooking the possibility that they struggle or need support themselves.

Things I Learned This Year Part 1 (Spaces)

I usually wrap up the arbitrary time interval of the Gregorian calendar with some “Things I Learned post(s) (like this, this, this, or this). This year, I’m feeling splainy, so I’m gonna break it into a few chunks. starting with some loosely tied reflections on spaces. 

The same work/idea can read tremendously differently in different contexts.
What is considered “funny,” “novel,” “intense,” or “radical,” is so defined by the venue and audience.

The environment and people I’m working with matter more to me than I previously thought.
This applies both to artistic and non-artistic work. But in particular, I expected that I would be so eager (and desperate) for dance jobs that I would tolerate any toxicity surrounding them. On the contrary, as I’ve gotten more professional experience, I’m realizing how much the people, practices, and values surrounding me influence both my happiness and quality of work, and this really affects how I choose projects.

Dance performances can be more fun, interesting, and effective outside of the usual dance concerts.
Many of the performances I’ve been doing lately have involved performing contemporary dance in non-dance venues, including art galleries, music concerts, theater festivals, and open mics. I’ve found refreshingly un-jaded audiences, taken feedback from new perspectives, absorbed some useful creative and business practices from different types of artists, and met lots of cool people outside the concert dance bubble.

Don’t mistake comfort for familiarity. Your comfort zone might be something you haven’t stepped into.
Turns out I enjoy acrobatics, drag, spoken word poetry, and talking on podcasts. I’ve also been reevaluating the social spaces I’ve been in for the last few years–which ones was I actually at home in and which ones was I just competent at navigating?

Identity-specific spaces can be freeing in ways I didn’t know I needed.
I didn’t use to seek out identity-specific spaces, with a variety of excuses: because I felt I didn’t “need” them, because I didn’t want to be exclusively defined by identity markers, or because I assumed I wasn’t the perfect prototype of someone who would belong in that community. I was wrong.

Some of my favorite experiences and relationships this year have come through identity-centric communities. Ironically, I suddenly felt less defined by those identities (since they were the least distinctive thing about me in context). However, I was also free to reflect on parts of my life I often censor, downplay, or have to over-explain and “represent positively.” With fewer walls up, I found myself becoming a more open, relaxed, creative version of myself, that I hope to bring into more aspects of my life.