Another Quarter Down

hide-obara-233Take a moment to stop and smell the roses, pull in a little bit of that December air. Do you smell that?

That is the beautiful aroma of freedom.

This morning I finished my last final for the quarter, quite possibly my last chemistry class ever, and it was fantastic. Just like that, another quarter is behind me; it took me a second to realize that this quarter really flew by. Between my classes and working along with trying to be more social this year, it’s been a pretty busy last couple months.

I’ve joined a few more groups on campus, committed more to a future I want, and improved my work ethic (at least I’d like to think so), all in a quarter’s work. After weeks of running after buses and 8-10pm classes, it’s the most wonderful time of the year— we are heading off towards the holidays.

Just in time to get my wisdom teeth out on Wednesday.

baim-hanif-89800Now that I’ve been out of high school for a year and one quarter at Cal Poly, I am constantly reminded of the responsibilities that are headed my way. From paying utility bills and gas to keeping up with deadlines and schoolwork while working, the adulting process has only just begun.

But that’s how it always is though isn’t it, we finish one thing just to start another. Just because I finished my 50,000 words last week doesn’t mean I’m done with the book; not quite yet. There’s always more to do and another challenge around the next corner.

That’s not to say we can’t still  celebrate the good things while we can.

And well, today I just want to celebrate the fact that Nick and I are home now only to turn around and head for Reno— Kris graduates tomorrow. I’m only in year two of my college experience, yet I can imagine what it feels like to be in his shoes. Getting through undergrad, the people and the stress, the tests and the work, to finally make it to the speeches and the graduation gown orders to walk across that stage and do the one thing we started all of this to do. To graduate.

kalen-emsley-99660It’s that idea of accomplishment, of reaching a new chapter or change and knowing where we started to get there. Take the recent TIMES articles, both the women and the men who raised their voices to what became #metoo. Those are our people of the year, can you believe it? If you take a look back on where the attitudes towards women or sexual assault started, society has come so far from letting bad things happen without fighting back, from not working towards something better.

That’s what we’re all doing isn’t it? Every day we make a change, we get up in the morning, and we work towards a better tomorrow. It’s why we go to school or we get jobs; it’s something like graduation or the changes we see in TIMES is so important— that is the better tomorrow.

It can only ever be what we make it.

This is the last month of the year, the final chance to cross those yearly bucket lists off before we start a new one, committing to go to the gym five days a week or taking better care of ourselves. Here’s the thing: the more you set future deadlines for the things you want to do, the things you deserve to do for yourself, the more time you leave between you and your goals.

So why not now? Go for a run tomorrow or reconnect with those people you’ve been meaning to catch up with all year. Live a life that you can be sure is yours, every single day. Make your change.

ahmed-saffu-217918Because I finished my second set of fall quarter finals today— I only get two more of those (so sad right?). Time will keep passing, people will keep coming and going, and life will keep on changing as I make my way towards my own graduation day; before I have no choice but to join the adult world and play my cards all in. For now, I think I’m okay with staying where I am, in celebrating Kris’s last four years of hard work while we cheer him on from our seats tomorrow. I’ve still got a little time and now, it’s my turn to appreciate someone else’s.

So happy holidays to everyone, and here’s to those heading towards finals of their own: good luck, study hard, and please don’t forget to sleep.

And hey, don’t forget to smell the roses, the aroma of freedom just a breath away.

 

The Indefinite Emotion: Love

“Tell me whom you love, and I’ll tell you who you are.” – Creole Proverb

As we come closer to the month of June being over and head towards that of Independence, I wanted to take a moment (and a blog post) to appreciate what is known as the past of LGBT poetry.

kc-luk-188412.jpgPoetry, like any other art form, is one of many histories and expressions. Though there truly is no telling who our greatest poets of the past are, I would like to celebrate just one for this month’s topic who was said to be a part of the community: Walt Whitman.

This poem is just one of many he wrote, however it is part of a group that came from his Leaves of Grass collection, also known as the “Calamus” cluster. This selection of poems is one of the main reasons Whitman was considered to be homosexual, so today I share with you the best known of the cluster.

I Saw in Louisiana a Live-Oak Growing holds within it solidarity, loneliness, and the love of men— considered at the time to be quite taboo. For he saw himself in the symbol the poem holds, from the Oak tree itself to the branch he broke off and took home as a token, one of self-expression even without companionship in its own abundance. So in the celebration of poetry of the times and what is now considered Pride month around the world, here is Walt Whitman:alvaro-serrano-133360 (1).jpg

I Saw in Louisiana a Live-Oak Growing

I saw in Louisiana a live-oak growing,

All alone stood it and the moss hung down from the branches,

Without any companion it grew there uttering joyous leaves of dark green,

And its look, rude, unbending, lusty, made me think of myself,

But I wonder’d how it could utter joyous leaves standing alone there without its friend near, for I knew I could not,

And I broke off a twig with a certain number of leaves upon it, and twined around it a little moss,

And brought it away, and I have placed it in sight in my room,

It is not needed to remind me as of my own dear friends,

(For I believe lately I think of little else than of them,)

adam-kool-11868.jpgYet it remains to me a curious token, it makes me think of manly love;

For all that, and though the live-oak glistens there in Louisiana solitary in a wide flat space,

Uttering joyous leaves all its life without a friend a lover near,

I know very well I could not.

365 Days Later…

This week may have been our final week of classes here at CP and my freshman year may be one week away from being over, but today I wanted to celebrate something very special with you:

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Last Sunday, Kwilliamsbooks turned 1.

A year ago, I graduated high school and decided to get a head start on my future and my upcoming (now almost a year old) book— so I started a blog. Who knew that my most viewed post (231 views) would be my fourth post ever, back in July of last year, or that this would become something so big in my life that I dedicate at least an entire 24 hours total to it every week? Yet here we are, one year and 57 blog posts later, right where I started: writing.

So today, I wanted to say “happy birthday” to my site by sharing more of what got me started in the first place— poetry. It’s been a few weeks since the last Poetry Place, but this is a special week after all. Here are five of my favorites:

 

Number one

Collateral Damage

She held within her heart a love she could could not tame,

monsters in her mind of which she could not name.

And when the two came together, into the same budding rose,

the dark collided with the beauty and she became the collateral damage.

sebastian-molina-fotografia-101308From the thorns in her side and the voices she could no longer hide

screaming out in agony from the wreckage her heart had just left behind

with the broken pieces amongst the thorns that rose grew up to contain;

every bit of love and light it held countered with a little bit of pain.

Yet she kept going anyway, knowing there was light up ahead.

The light she created with everything she had when she finally let herself

Get Lost.

Number two

Out of Place

Does tired even compare to that feeling anymore,

that hopeless, empty, insignificant feeling—

that she’s trapped in a place where she does not belong;

in her life surrounded by all the things she is not?

Her beautiful friends and their beautiful minds

of which she cannot compare to.

Her too smart classes with her too smart classmates

of whom she does not fit in with…evan-kirby-263913

Somehow she’s here, existing between the lines

where people do not look, do not care.

Do not see her here, past the beauty and the brains,

back to where she is stripped down to nothing but a face.

That nobody remembers and nobody needs to,

as she is just another person in this world.

One without the beauty and one without the brains,

one that nobody seems to want to claim.

And that is okay too; she knows that it happens

when she looks in the mirror and sees who she is.

Because in the end it’s her life, something of her own making,

and she is just simply out of place.

Number three

Pretty People

It’s a shame to see such pretty people so sad.

All the beauty in the world cannot fix these broken souls.

And as the time runs out and the days wear thin,

splitshire-9614

the night comes on back, leaving only darkness to hold

the beauty of light fading to the sadness of the soul.

As we walk, your hands and mine on this lonely dark road,

together we are here and our thoughts echo off the walls.

While I can feel that you are broken, I can hear it in your heart.

And it’s a shame to see such pretty people fall apart.

 

Number four

Restless

As I lay my head to rest

Instead I rest with

Thoughts of you.

 

Running course through my body

in everything

you do.freestocks-org-206394

 

Like the way I watch you care for others;

you’re the only

one who

 

showed me how to fall in love…

Some days I wish

I never knew.

 

And number five

Skeletons to Burn

There are skeletons in my closet, far too many to count.

For there is another one in a darker corner, the back shelf of my mind.

And honesty has never been enough to truly bring me back, to give me

the oxygen I need to breathe, as it chokes me with charred hands.

Quietly, I am extinguished, the flame of my soul slowly burning out,

as the pain never felt so real, engulfing everything I am and

everything I could be until there was truly nothing left.

annie-spratt-218458Nothing but those skeletons in my closet, taking up space

the way the secrets of our past always do, complicating this life

much like that skeleton left in the back of my mind, silent and holding,

sharp and true, waiting for the moment to come out to play.

They say that bones may dance and sometimes, secrets may catch fire,

but truly there is nothing left of me, not even the burning outline

of everything I used to be and the secrets I used to hold,

for it all went to hell right where I will see it tomorrow as I find my way

downtown through the noose. It is over now, the burning has become a quiet calm,

and for the first time in my life it seems

there are no more skeletons left in my closet.

There is nothing left of me.

amwriting-metters

Happy Birthday to my site— I wanted to take a moment to say thank you to everyone who has supported me or looked at my blog in the past year. A writer is nothing without their readers but empty words, and I thank you for giving me some place to fill. Here’s to the end of my first year of classes here at CP, my final exams next week, and another beautiful year of embracing my future.

What it means to have Pride

Welcome to June, the month I finally get to begin my (short) summer, the weather really starts heating up, and the world gets to celebrate something very important.

Welcome to Pride Month.laura-ockel-197421.jpg

If you’ve been on Google today you might have seen the rainbow colors on their doodle for the day, that is something special. Those colors represent the birthday of Gilbert Baker, the man who designed what is now known as the flag that represents LGBTQ+. Though he passed away just this year in March, his activism and his flag, has spread through this world in a way that is very much alive.

That’s what this month is about.

For those of you who do not know, Pride month itself and the celebration of its essence began back in 1969 with the Stonewall Riots: a stand against police harassment towards a group of gay customers in Greenwich Village, New York. At the time, most states had laws passed against the group gathering of LGBTQ+ people, gay bars, and public homosexuality. This riot began in protest of discrimination in the Stonewall Inn, and as people shouted “gay power”, standing up up for their own human rights, they stated something they never saw coming.  

Protests lasted for days with even 1,000 people attending at once. Ultimately, this led to the Gay Liberation Movement and Christopher Street Liberation Day which happened on June 28, 1970; the first anniversary of the Stonewall Riots with as well as the first Gay Pride march in U.S. history. It covered an entire 51 blocks through to Central Park.
F3FH5XYZY0Known as the “Mother of Pride” for her help in organizing the march, Brenda Howard originated the celebrations  and festivities held every June and also coined what we now know as the term
Pride.

From there the movement spread, as all movements do, to San Francisco and LA, then Boston and Dallas, and so many more places before the culture behind it had shifted completely into something global. Something stronger. Here in the United States, it took us until our 42nd President, Bill Clinton, to recognize Pride on June 2, 2000. Since then, both Clinton and Obama acknowledged this month, however, President Trump could have been the first Republican President to do so. The future of that possibility is yet to be seen.

Around the world, we celebrate the people who make up the 7.4 billion population we are surrounded by. Among those who have passed away, many of the most incredible people were also a part of the LGBTQ+ community. Have you ever heard of Bessie Smith, Empress of the Blues, and one of the highest paid black entertainers of all time? Maybe you know of, Tennesee Williams, writer of the Glass Menagerie? Or how about Sally Ride, the first woman in space? Each of them were a part of LGBTQ+ history, a part of what this world has now come to celebrate, and major contributors to the music, entertainment, and accomplishments of the United States.

We cannot celebrate our history without recognizing all the pieces of it. Just like Black History Month or Women’s History Month,

sorasak-217807 (1)we celebrate Pride as more than a month, but an appreciation for every person it applies to. Because no matter what a person identifies with or what defines who they are, they just might change the world someday. I know some LGBTQ+ people who have already changed mine.

Before Baker’s flag emerged in 1978, the symbol of gay pride was a pink triangle— Hitler made homosexuals wear them as a tag during World War Two. We have come a long way, legalizing gay marriage two years ago, but there is still a long road ahead as the world around us becomes more accepting of what being an “American” really means. From accepting that racism is still an issue to coming to terms with the status of our Earth’s climate, things have changed a lot since I was born, but not as much as I believe they will in the future.

One way or another, an easy way to bring change is with education— today, I hope you learned a little bit more about what Pride Month really means. Whether you identify with, support, or simply understand the community, know that like any other identity in this world, it deserves to be respected at the very least. If you join in on the celebration this year, at a Pride parade or anywhere else, it’s important to know the boundaries not to cross— how to appreciate without accidentally discriminating. Like Gilbert Baker believed when creating the flag, “We needed something beautiful, something from us. The rainbow is so perfect because it really fits our diversity in terms of race, gender, ages, all of those things.”

Not only did he create a beautiful flag, he created a safe space for more equality, brought people together, and probably changed so many lives in the process. Because thdimitar-belchev-235925at is the beauty change in this world and the ability people have to come together in communities. In a world of 7.4 billion people and 12 months to celebrate each of every one of us, this one is for LGBTQ+. And that is the beauty of Pride.

P.S. If you want to learn any more, click on all those blue words and it’ll take you right to the info!

Here’s to the class of 2017

Last year, I wrote you a letter (If you haven’t read it and want to, it’s right here).

This year, you get an entire blog post dedicated to you. Really, it is a very big thing, you should feel special.

Because you are.

Today is the day, you’re luca-baggio-211858graduating. Just like that, four years of high school, 12 years of mandatory classes, and ultimately your childhood is about to be behind you. Once you cross that stage, there is absolutely no going back. You have made it.

For the past four years, you have made new friends, suffered through boring classes, taken the SAT’s as many times as it took, gone through the stress of college applications, and so many more things that led you to where you are now. In advisory, you spent four years with the same people and now, you may never see some of them after tonight until the high school reunions that seem so far away. People told you to make the most out of high school, that it would be “the best four years of your life…”

I think they just said that because those are the only consecutive 4 years any of us could really remember that well. Whether that’s true or not, here we are.

Take a look at what waits for you on the other side of graduation. Your future is uncertain, none of you really have any idea what the plan is for the rest of your life. Maybe you’re going to a university, 4 year, community, or military. Maybe you’re taking a gap year or following a dream. Maybe you’re going to trade school or joining the working work right out of high school— that’s the thing. There are so many options and so many different roads to take from here on out. In the end, it’s your choice which way you go and there is no one but you telling you where that yellow brick road is.

aaron-burden-261110Because, well, you’re not in high school anymore.

So forget the petty drama, the detentions, the bad grades, and the missed connections. Let go of the admin rules, the rebellion against the system, and the groups you were never a part of. Walk away from the long classes, the scheduled days, and the essence of irrelevance.

None of it matters.

From here on out, you’re growing up and everything is changing. High school was only the beginning. You’ll see what I mean when you’ve been out of high school for a year and have no idea how things look so different. They just do.

Four years ago you walked onto a new campus, back to the bottom of the food chain, ready to show the world of high school what you’ve got. Maybe you wanted to go out for sports, join a bunch of clubs, get the best grades ever, and sail your way into a good college or wherever you might go after that. Some of those years were rough— it’s only four years but its funny how long they can seem when you’re in it. And some of it was the time of your life, you found people who it all made sense with, and high school didn’t seem so bad. By year four, you’re a senior. Taking on the first day of school for the last time, ruling over all of the rallies, and making the most of the time you had left.

Everyone else looked up to you all.

Because they knew, soon enough, that would be them. And they needed to know what to do, how to be, and what they were headed towards. One day, you would graduate and leave them a legacy to fulfill.

Who knew that day would come so soon? 18721448_1216275755165856_1380549139_o

Leaving Vista last year, it was the end of an era. There were some people I would really miss and most of my class that I would probably not see for the next 10 years, at least. After going from seeing people every day to seeing them every few months, you’ll see what it really means to have certain people in your life due to proximity. And if you’re as lucky as I have been, you might also understand what it means when I say distance is not enough to keep some people apart. No matter what you do from here on out, remember that if you want people in your life or you’re striving for something big, it takes effort. A lot of it. But it is always worth it in the end.

So as you cross that stage and head off into your future, don’t forget where you have come from and the person you have become. If you don’t like who you are, you can change it. And if you do, surround yourself with people who will make you even better. Whatever you do today, make sure you thank your parents and anyone else who got you to that diploma in your hands. They’ve done a lot for you. Make sure they know how much it means to you.

railroad walkWelcome to the rest of your life, what was the best summer of my life, and young adulthood at it’s finest. This is only the beginning and I am so proud of all of you, both those of you who I knew well and those of you I didn’t. Because you made it, today is your day.

Make it count. And happy graduation day.

 

P.S. I was right when I told you about Disney Grad wasn’t I? Best. Night. Ever.

There’s no mom like my mom

Welcome to the beautiful day in which we celebrate the mothers of the world. Whether they are the dads who played both roles or the moms who did everything they could, there are certain people in this world that make the world go round.alex-pasarelu-223684.jpg

I have two special things for you today as a way to show my appreciation for the mother I am blessed to have. I know that I am lucky enough to have my mother still around in my life to appreciate and I intend to remind her of that as often as I can. This morning my mom sent me a video (click that link) that I wanted to share it, not to spoil the punchline, but I think you will enjoy it. Along with that video, I am sharing a poem I wrote for my mom— another Poetry Place, this one dedicated just for her.

So here’s to the beauty of having mothers to fully appreciate and the one and only mom I am lucky enough to have. To all the mothers who deserve everything in this world: Happy Mother’s Day.

 

To the One and Only

 

I remember looking at old pictures

of the woman you used to be,

before this new life existed,london-scout-27289

before the kids— before me.

There’s something about that smile,

the carefree way you posed;

eyes right on the camera with that look…

I gotta say mom, you’ve got me shook.

With your strength, your beauty, and your poise,

it’s no wonder you’ve raised two wonderful boys.

Not to mention the best daughter ever, I know

I may be biased, but some things go to show…

You’ve done a good job, you taught me right

I mean I know how to win a fist fight.

Not to forget the intelligence to boot,

let’s just say, I know my roots.

18493563_1205753656218066_1675709340_oCause the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree

And I got lucky with how much you’ve taught us

I’m nineteen years old already, yet still

I’m you’re only little girl, be that, I always will.

Cause in those old photos I see so much potential

for who I can become, from the woman I adore.

Happy Mother’s Day Mom, and I truly hope you do

enjoy it, because you deserve it all and I love you.

Eighteen going on Ninteen

“And there are people who forget what it’s like to be sixteen when they turn seventeen. I know these will all be stories some day, and our pictures will become old photographs.”

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A week ago, I pinkie promised Nick that I would not throw him a surprise party for our birthday. So what did I do? I supplied everything his floor needed so they could then throw him a surprise party. Because you only turn 19 once in a college dorm full of people who care about you— why not have some fun with it? This is our last year of being adults, but not quite treated as such.

I’m told we are supposed to cherish this timely opportunity. Therefore, I believe that a surprise party was very necessary.

There’s something about knowing that this is my last year of being a teenager that holds a certain importance. Like they say, I have to cross all my t’s and dot the i’s before I get to a point where there is no turning back. Apparently, 20 just might be that point.

There are bucket lists to complete, people to go on road trips with, and adventures to have before my adulthood it too official. I have a habit of complaining to my parents about adulting, but I can’t imagine truly being looked at as an adult. As Ellis Grey says, “It sucks being a grown up, but the carousel never stops turning.”

Life never stops moving.robert-lamb-5397.jpg

Sometimes I feel like a lot of us forget that we need to live for the present; not just plan for the future and work for where we want to be, but put ourselves into the reality it has become too easy to ignore. High school, college, adulthood, etc… No matter where we are at in our lives, there will always be things to plan for and future possibilities to pay attention to.

What happens when we neglect the possibility the moments hold have?

I think that’s when we forget to live. But tell me something: do you think it’s possible to live too hard? If not, I’m not so sure why so many of us forget to do so. There’s a reason the phase “life happens when you’re busy making other plans” is a cliche… Because it’s true.While we plan for everything everything else life tends to pass us by. Do you remember the last time you did something spontaneous?

On Wednesday, I decided to make cupcakes for fun. Then I ate half of them. But when was the last time you went out for ice cream, or took a road trip, or stayed up all night watching those 2 AM reruns of the Fresh Prince just becuase you could? That’s all a part of living. And on my 19th birthday, I was reminded of how many people I have in this world connected to my life who are all out there doing something. From college finals and moving home, to planning trips and moving on, there really is no time like the present.

Make it worth something.

In his quote from The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky’s monologue at the end of the book reminded me of how fleeting these moments can be. Many people will forget what it’s like to be sixteen when they turn seventeen, our lives really will be nothijoey-kyber-132520.jpgng more than stories later on… Those stories might get told through old photographs and all the people who stick around in our lives, but right now all there is to talk about is the reality. So enough talking, we need more action. Because right now, right now I can sit here and remember what it’s like to be eighteen when I turned nineteen.

I remember it like it was yesterday.