I’m brave and I’m tough.

People think I’m weak. They think I’m afraid of everything and I’m jumpy as hell, and I’m going to break. Or that I’m already broken, and I’ve got irrevocable damage.

I’m a fantastical Starshine with a few scars, that’s all. Whenever life throws me for a loop, and things change, and I get scared, yes, I get weak. I feel hopeless and scared and I want to just throw in the towel and give up. I want to quit this life. But I always stay determined. And I want to challenge myself even more to be that strong.

When the worst happens…

when I get fired, or laid off, or when I can’t afford rent… when I’m in a homeless shelter, or I get kicked out of the homeless shelter because I didn’t make it back in time for curfew… when I’m sleeping on the streets… when I lose everything I worked hard to own, all my books, all my music, all my everything…

I want to smile.

I want to have the courage, the strength, and the toughness to smile. I want to give the world a big cheerful smile, full of genuine joy and say:

I’m fantastical!

I’ve been through it before, I know I’m strong enough to go through it again. I will be more than ok. I will be incredible. I’m Holiday Adventure Starshine.

When bad things happen, smile. Don’t let bad things have any power over you.

I never thought I’d own a bookshelf, or have my own safe space, my own little room with a door that closed. I never thought I’d own a car or learn how to drive. I never thought I’d live to be 15 years old, let alone ten, twenty, fifty years past that. I never thought I’d graduate high school, let alone college and graduate school.

I never thought I’d be anything but worthless street trash.

Well, I’m not worthless. No one is. And the only way I’m going to help girls like me who’ve been through the things I’ve been through… is to fight, and stay strong, and stay determined. And to smile and always have hope, even in the darkest of times.

Yeah, I’m scared about my hours getting cut at work. Yes, I’m worried about money. But I’m not going back to bad things. I am a strong, independent woman. I need to channel my inner Khaleesi and inner Beyoncé.

“The next time you lay a hand on me will be the last time you have hands!”

(You will only understand this if you are familiar with Game of Thrones and you also understand my life).

I dream it, I work hard, and I grind ’til I own it.

(You will understand this if you have been alive and not in a coma for the past year, and you have ears… I ain’t sorry).

Holiday’s Adventures in Stage Fright.

Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Do one thing every day that scares you.”

That has inspired me to jump out of planes and off bridges, hitchhike in foreign countries, buy one-way tickets to places I’ve never been, and to get up on stage in front of other humans and say things.

(Actually, if I’m being honest it’s mostly my self-destructive nature that has inspired me to do those things, but I want to sound impressive. Saying that Eleanor inspired me sounds way more sophisticated.)

((And hey, there’s a lot to be said for self-destructiveness! It’s the reason for every single one of my adventures.))

(((and misadventures)))

So here I am, playing the violin in front of people:

I failed. A lot.

But I kept playing! Stay determined, never give up. Do all the scary things. Make all the mistakes. No one starts off an expert.

And just tonight, I got up on stage in front of people and I told them jokes.

Notice how the guy in the front row kind of pretends to smile at first and then gives up? Like, “This girl is so not funny… I’mma look up funny cat videos on my phone now.” And then he half-heartedly claps at the end, like, “Thank god this shit is over.” Enjoy.

I am not brave. Or, I guess in the world of Game of Thrones I’m pretty brave. “Can a man still be brave if he is afraid?” To which Eddard Stark replied, “That is the only time a man can be brave.” …and I’m afraid all the time.

When I first got to Hawai’i, I had never played a violin solo in front of other people before. I had never told jokes on a stage before, participated in an open mic night. I also had never hiked a mountain and swam in the ocean on the same day, or saw a turtle on a beach, or worked in a hotel, or hiked on a active volcano, or had furniture or painted my own room. Every place I go, there are new scary adventures to have.

And here, I’ve been inspired to be stronger and braver and better, and it’s because I’ve met all of these really amazing, really strong and brave and empowered women.

Carina is the owner of King’s Pizza, where I participated in this open mic night. She’s a single mom and a small business owner and entrepreneur.

Erica is the founder of the Female Comics of Hawai’i, who organizes the open mic night here on Thursdays.

My violin teacher’s name is Julia, and she’s an incredible violinist. I have learned so much from her, and that’s not limited to the violin. She’s also teaching me (whether she knows it or not) to be a stronger, braver person. She told me a few lessons ago, “Stop saying sorry so much. You say sorry a lot, and you don’t need to.”

She teaches at the Masaki School of Music, which was founded by a woman named Ellen Masaki over 55 years ago.

There are so many amazing women there are out there, starting businesses and nonprofits and comedy groups and impacting the world in a positive way.

I’ve been so inspired by so many strong, empowered women that I’ve met here. I want to be stronger, too. I want to channel my inner Beyoncé, my inner Khaleesi.

I want to be brave. So I’m going to keep making all the mistakes and standing up anyway. I may never be a leader, or start a business, or achieve any form of greatness. But in my own small little life I hope I impact the lives of the people I meet in a positive way, and inspire them to be stronger too.

Broken things and fireworks.

And then the sky exploded in color. This broken tree in the corner of the photograph fell the night before I ever saw it.

We were both broken things at the time, but the tree is being helped and healed and growing strong. The lost part of itself can never be returned to it. The tree will never be its old whole self again, it will be a new beautiful thing.

When someone breaks you, don’t stay broken. Staying broken is your choice. Staying strong can be your choice too.

House Without a Key, Hawai’i.

You are more fantastical than you know.

Remember when you’re a kid and you believe you can do anything, because even when the world tells you that you can’t, you haven’t been told no enough times to believe them yet?

Remember believing you’re beautiful and smart and talented and that you can achieve all that you dream?

At what point did the bad things become easier to believe?

Well I refuse. I’m staying determined. As long as I’m alive there’s possibility to do anything I set my mind to do.

Say no to any part of you that believes you’re worthless or stupid or ugly. Tell that part of you to go away forever. Say yes to good things. Believe in yourself. Stay determined.

America, my country.

The Statue of Liberty has become a symbol of America. She is a symbol of freedom and welcome. And if you go to Liberty Island and see the statue, you can read the New Colossus, a poem written by Emma Lazarus, and which, I think, captures what America should be.

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

Yes, I know, America belonged to the indigenous people before Europeans came to this land and stole it from them and hurt these people. I know America has a tumultuous history and we’ve done good and bad things in the world. But we are a country who claims to value freedom above all else. We also value equality, or so we said in our Declaration of Independence when we took the first steps of becoming an independent nation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

America has never exactly been overwhelmingly kind to immigrants and refugees, but it’s part of our history that everyone, I think, from both sides of politics, take as an example of why America is great. We are a place that people dream about. We are a country people risk everything to get to, because they are seeking a better life. We are the “land of opportunity.”

And right now… it’s like Lady Liberty is in a cage. No one is free while even one of us is enslaved. Closing America’s borders to certain nations and people? What is happening to my country?

It’s hard for me to really believe that we are looked at as a land of opportunity, because I wish I could emigrate to a better country, a country that already upholds my personal values and principles. (Such as Sweden, perhaps.) But I know I’m not alone in America. I’m not the only American who believes that we should accept immigrants and refugees and provide more opportunities for the most vulnerable people. I’m not the only American who thinks we need to change a lot of things to improve the lives of our citizens, and believes in our responsibility to make things better for our planet.

I pledge allegiance to the flag for which it stands, one Nation, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.

We are so divided, though. Half of us is terrified of the other half. Republicans, Democrats, when did the divide between us become so great?

I am proud of our First Amendment to the Constitution. It protects our freedom of speech, of the press, of our right to assemble.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

We can use our voice, our right to assemble peacefully, our freedom of speech. We can speak out. We can protest.

I am sad and I am afraid for my country, and for the world. I know, on a logical level, that the world is getting better. Overall, things are getting better. But it’s hard to look at the big picture in a moment like this.

Let’s make America compassionate again. Please.

2017 Resolutions

This year I will do all the things.

  • Go to 50 yoga classes this year.
    • And buy a yoga mat!
    • And do yoga at home too!
    • Maybe only do yoga at home, because of save money goals.
  • Learn the violin.
  • Achieve the DMV.
    • Like, actually get my Hawai’i license.
    • But that involves going to the DMV.
      • The DMV is the worst.
    • Do I really need a Hawai’i license?
  • Take a surf lesson.
    • Or just rent a surfboard and try to surf.
    • And hopefully not drown.
  • Go scuba diving.
    • Maybe…?
    • But scuba diving is expensive.
    • 2018?
  • Go to Kaua’i.
  • Make a 4.0 my first semester of Library School.
  • Save $5000 by the end of the year.
    • Or at least open up a Savings Account.
  • Hike Pali Puka.
  • Hike Koko Head.
  • Hike to Manoa Falls.
  • Write a book this year.
    • Or at least a chapter?
      • Or maybe just an outline…
  • Read 57 books this year.
  • Practice the violin more this year.
  • Aprender más español.
  • Learn Hawaiian.
  • Weigh less than 100lbs for at least a few weeks.
    • I know, I know, it’s not healthy. “That’s too skinny!” Blah, blah, blah. But let’s be honest. When you’re a girl, that’s kind of the goal. When people think you’re so skinny they tell you to “eat a cheeseburger” or they say they’re “worried about you” that’s like, the girl dream. I just want to be too skinny for a few weeks in my life, and then I’ll go back to being an ice-cream gobbling, milkshake chugging chubster.
  • Go the the Legend of Zelda symphony orchestra performance.
  • Go see Bill Maher when he comes to Hawaii in 2017.
  • Go to more music things.
  • Learn a lot.

I know. Modest goals compared to 2016. But this year I will have less money and less time. I’m going to be working full time and be in graduate school full time. I’m going to be busy and have to stay focused on my education and career goals. And for 2017 at least, I’m staying still in Hawaii. I’m not moving again. And traveling back to the mainland or to another country is expensive. I’m going to go to Reykjavik and Zanzibar and Lascaux and San Morino and Barcelona and the Sea of Stars in the Maldives and to Fiji and Townsville in Queensland and to London and ALL the places. One day. But not in 2017
More personal, vague goals:

  • Be healthier in spirit.
  • Be more compassioanate
  • Feel safe.
  • Make friends.
  • Be more assertive and self-assured. Believe in myself, believe that I am worth something.

2016 Resolutions: Review

A year ago, I set these goals for myself for the year of 2016.

  •  Run 100 miles in 10 weeks.
    • Run 100 miles in 6 months?
    • Run 100 miles this year.
    • …run 10 miles this year.
    • Walk places.

For this goal, I didn’t meet it. There were days I ran 1 mile, there were days I ran 2 miles. I definitely ran at least 10 miles this year, but not 100 miles. Should I set this as a goal for myself for 2017? Perhaps. I think I’m just going to set a goal of run 10 miles in 1 week at least 1 week out of 2017.

  • Yoga.
    • Buy 30 yoga classes.
    • …buy 10 yoga classes.
    • Buy a yoga mat?
    • Watch a YouTube yoga video.
    • Get a yoga app?
    • Stretch a couple times this year.

I met this goal! Kind of. I bought a couple months of yoga classes and I attended around 15 yoga classes this year. I bought a yoga mat, which I left on the mainland. But don’t worry, I’m buying another yoga mat. As far as fitness goals, I have also been purchasing a lot of fitness outfits. I have two weeks’ worth of sports bras, running shorts, running tops, workout clothes, and at least a week’s worth of yoga pants.

I’m glad I set these lofty goals for myself for health and wellness, because I’ve slowly but surely been taking steps towards being more healthy. And I’m in love with yoga. It’s $100/month for yoga classes at the yoga studio next door, and guess what? It’s right above this little café that has the most amazing pitaya bowls (and they’re vegan!). I’m going to buy 6 months of classes next week to kick off the new year and I’m going to go at least five days a week for those six months. I love love love yoga. It’s amazing.

  • Save $10,000.
    • Save at least $8000.
    • Really, even saving $5000 would be amazing.

I did not meet this goal. I spent money as soon as I made it and I’ve been following that pattern. I bought a $4000 iMac. I bought a $4000 car. (That was really more like a $1000 car). I bought a $200 violin. I bought $500 worth of workout clothes. I bought more money than I care to share on pretty dresses and makeup. I bought beats headphones and a waterproof stereo. I bought an iPhone. I bought a 12″ Macbook. I bought an iPad Pro. I bought an Apple products. Most of my money now belongs to the Apple corporation.

But this year, 2017, I am going to work harder at saving. I’m going to try to save at least $5000 this year. It’s going to be nearly impossible because I’m paying back my student loans AND I’m going to graduate school to get a Masters in Library and Information Science. But I’m going to have $5000 in an actual savings account by the year 2018, goddammit.

  • Get a part-time job at a library!

I achieved this goal! I worked for New Bedford Public Libraries and I worked in Casa de Saudade Library, Lawler Library, and the Wilks Library. I loved that job more than I’ve loved any job I’ve ever had in my entire life. I loved every second of it, I couldn’t wait to go to work. I would leave work with a smile on my face saying, “I can’t believe I get paid to do this.”

I need to be a librarian. And so I am pursuing a degree in Library and Information Science. I already bought a textbook for one of my classes (that doesn’t even start until August 2017!). And I’ve been reading it and taking notes and smiling a lot. I love love love the library, and I cannot wait to work in a library again.

(My dream library. The Seattle Public Library.)

  • Apply to grad schools and PhD programs.
    • Library Science
    • Anthropology

I applied to UH Manoa graduate school for Library and Information Science and I got accepted!!!

  • Read 100 books this year.
    • Read 50 books this year…?
    • Read at least 25 books this year.

I read a lot of books this year. I don’t remember how many. But here’s a few:

Indie Games– awesome book I just read about independent games and their importance in the gaming industry. It talks about how video games are becoming an art form in their own right, similar to how movies evolved into an art form. It’s a new form of telling a story.

Pax– cute and profound story about a boy and his fox and how war devastates lives.

Blue Hope– a book written by Sylvia Earle, one of my personal heroes, a marine biologist, brilliant scientist, and adventurous aquanaut. It’s about how we can save the oceans and preserve marine life. It’s beautiful and full of wonderful, delightful photographs of the underwater world.

Fables– I re-read the entire series of comics. It’s about fairy tale creatures who live in New York City.

The Strange Library– a Haruki Murakami book. Honestly the actual story was very bizarre, but the book was so cool looking!

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage– another Haruki Murakami book that I found in a drawer at the hotel where I work. I read it in a couple days in between phone calls when I was the phone operator. At first I started reading it out of boredom because there was nothing to do in the slow moments at work. And the book didn’t seem that interesting. It seemed bizarre like Haruki’s books typically are, but more grounded in reality than his other books. And then it got really, really interesting. I actually thought a lot about this book and want to meet someone else who has read it so I can process it.

Ready Player One– Ernest Cline. This was a re-read actually. I was part of a very fantastical book club that one of my best friends, Kristen, started and I tended to convince everyone to choose my books. I love this one. It’s all about video games! Well, video games set in a dystopian future where a young boy from the slums has to save the world. Kind of.

Broken Monsters– a book club book about a magical serial killer in Detroit. Wasn’t my favorite.

Dime– a book that very close to accurately portrays what human sex trafficking actually looks like in America. It got it wrong though. I understand that E.R. Frank is a writer and wants to be dramatic, but come on, if your purpose is to accurately portray something than do that! Don’t go off the deep end into drama about selling infant babies because that’s sexier than a 16 year old on the street making money for her pimp. That’s disgusting. People aren’t going to remember the teenagers in danger in this book, they’re going to hold onto the “selling babies” part of it. “Oh my god, human trafficking is horrible. Babies get sold on the black market.” No. That doesn’t happen. Or, well, I know, it probably does, but that’s not what most human trafficking looks like.

Undeniable– Bill Nye the Science Guy. About evolution and why it’s true, but it’s preaching to the choir because I already know it’s true.

The Rational Optimist– all about how the world is actually getting better and we’re all going to be amazing in the future.

Abundance– another book supporting this theory that the world and human quality of life is improving.

Strangers in Our Own Land– about Republicans and why poor people in Louisiana vote against their own interests. It’s actually really fascinating, but also incredibly frustrating because I just want people to be more logical.

Belle de Jour– book club book. I just don’t think she’s telling the whole truth in this book. She’s clearly been through trauma and is pretending to be full of joie de virve to fight the pain.

Fierce Medicine– Anna Forrest about her yoga practice. A little too dramatic, but I love what she’s saying about yoga being powerful and healing.

The Girl with All the Gifts– about zombies.

I read so many books this year. Bossypants, Yes, Please, The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, We Should All Be Feminists, Men Explain Things To Me, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children… So many books. I definitely met this goal.

  • Learn Spanish.
    • Try to learn Spanish.
    • Read La Casa de Los Espíritus and El Orden Alfabetico and Memorias de Mis Putas Tristes.
      • En español
      • Y, también, quiero escribir un cuento en español.
    • Think about buying Rosetta Stone.
    • Don’t buy Rosetta Stone, because Saving Money goals.
    • Give up and watch Pan’s Labyrinth with subtitles.

Yo aprendí más español en el año dos mil y dies y seis. Pero tengo que aprender más español y practicar más en el año dos mil y dies y siete. Quiero leer muchos libros en español. Quiero leer cuentos de hadas! Quiero leer libros de la biblioteca.

  • Move somewhere awesome.
    • Move to Hawaii.
    • Move to Seattle.
    • Move to Champaign-Urbana.
    • Move to Zanzibar.
    • Move to Fiji.
    • Move to the Moon.

I moved to Hawaii!

  • Try to go surfing.
    • How much does it cost to go surfing?
    • Will I need to buy a surf board?
    • Maybe this should be a 2017 resolution.

I did not go surfing, but I am going to in 2017! I’m living in one of the best places to learn to surf.

  • Try to go scuba diving.
    • How much is scuba diving?
    • Another 2017 resolution, probably.

Definitely happening in 2017.

  • Write more.
    • Write 50,000 words this year.
    • Hey, if NaNoWriMo folks can write 50,000 words in one month, I sure as hell can do it in a year.

I wrote a lot, but not 50,000 words. I’m working on a book though. In 2017, I am going to finish writing my book.

  • Kiss in the rain.
    • This is probably a try it once kind of thing. It’s probably one of those things that sounds more cool/romantic/fun than it actually is.

Nope. Nope nope nope. And I’m nope-ing away from this goal.

  • Go vegan.
    • Go vegetarian?
    • Eat healthier…
    • Eat less ice cream…
    • Don’t eat ice cream every single day…
    • Go at least 1 month without eating any ice cream. Goals!
      • Does that include milkshakes?
      • But I like milkshakes.
      • I don’t like this goal.

I am vegan! As of six days ago… But still. I made it to vegan by the end of 2016!

  • Lose 5000 lbs!
    • Lose 5 lbs.
    • I’ll just skip this and go straight to a better goal: Gain 25lbs. I’ll win the New Year!
    • Learn to love myself the way I am, because I hate exercise and I love ice cream.

I gained 25lbs! I won the New Year! Haha. No. I weigh 10lbs less than I did at the beginning of the year. I’m continuing this goal though. I want to weigh 87lbs in 2017. Just for like a few days, and then pig out on a bunch of ice cream.

  • Get a pedicure.

Yep! A few actually. And a manicure.

  • Go to a spa.

I’ve been to so many spas this year! Niagara Falls spa, Oahu spa, Maui spa, and Big Island spa. I love the Maui spa. It was like… out of a movie. Like a magical enchanted spa.

  • Get a massage.

I’ve gotten 3 massages this year, at the spa.

  • See Niagara Falls.

I saw Niagara Falls! It was amazing and I went with one of my best friends Amanda Panda.

  • See the Grand Canyon.

I saw the Grand effing Canyon!!! I saw Antelope Canyon and Meteor Crater and the Vermilion Cliffs too!

  • Hug a rainbow tree.

I hugged ALL the rainbow trees!!! Hawaii!!!

  • See the giant Sequoias.

I saw the biggest Sequoia on the entire planet. I also saw the redwood forest at Muir Woods. I went to Sequoia National Park in California.

  • Visit Provincetown.

Not only did I visit Provincetown, I visited it with one of my best friends Matt who also worked at the library where I worked. It was so much fun! Matt and I also went to the Whaling Museum in New Bedford together and Matt, Kristen, and I all went to the Boston Museum of Science.

  • Go hiking on a volcano.

I went hiking on AN ACTIVE VOLCANO! I met Pele, the Hawaiian volcano goddess. Or at least, I saw where she lives. Or where people believe she lives. I saw petroglyphs and the sea gates and active lava flow. I saw all the lava! It was awesome.

I did so much more this year than just that. I went across the country. I saw the oldest cemetery in the entire country, in Massachusetts. I went to see lighthouses. I went from Portland, Maine, to Portland, Oregon. I saw NASA and touched a space shuttle that has been to the moon and back. I went to the Providence water fire. I went to the grave of Mercy Brown, a reported vampire child. I went floating down a river in Asheville with one of my best friends, Amanda R. I saw so many fireworks this year. I went back to New Orleans and ate rum chocolate chip gelato (zuppa inglese) at Brocato’s and I had a po-boy again. I went to a TARDIS bar with one of my best friends, Little Katie. We had story day at the usual place, Rue de la Course coffee shop.

I saw all the things in Arizona. I saw all the things in California. I saw the Hollywood sign with one of my best friends Adriana. We went to Hollywood and saw the stars of the movie stars on the sidewalk. We went hiking and saw the city. We went to the Los Angeles arboretum and I saw my first rainbow tree there! And a lot of peacocks. And we went to the sand dunes and danced in the desert. And I ran into the Pacific Ocean, my first steps in the Pacific!

I went to the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose! It’s been on my list forever and it was a spontaneous side adventure when I was in San Francisco. I walked across the Golden Gate Bridge. I saw Fisherman’s Wharf, the Castro, and Dolores Park. My last day there I met this really awesome guy from England named Jack who was on holiday in America. He was going to see the Grand Canyon, too.

At the Grand Canyon I also made a friend! Her name is Kelsey and we’ve been sending each other books. She is a teacher in Texas, and just as adventurous as I am.

In San Francisco, I went to Muir Woods too with a couple of my good friends, Annika and Jakki. We had so many laughs. It was such a magical, enchanted day. After the woods we went to this awesome little beach surrounded by cliffs. It was a fun hike and such a great day.

I went to Salt & Straw in Portland, the best ice cream shop I’ve ever met. And I saw Portland things, like this submarine thing (there’s a cooler submarine in New Bedford), and the downtown part with this goofy sign that points in all directions (there’s a more colorful sign like that in New Orleans). Portland library was pretty cool, too.

And then Seattle! I saw the Space Needle and I went to the Seattle Public Library, and it was love at first sight. That library is made of magic. It’s so bright, happy, creative, and colorful. I want to live there. The first level is literally called “The Living Room.” And there’s a desk that someone works at that is literally just the desk for “Book Suggestions.” I want that job! I want to be the Book Suggestions Expert!

There’s a Writer’s Room in the library too, space for people to write! Every single floor is a new adventure. I love, love, love, love, love that library so much. I want to live there. Seriously. When I get my Master’s, I am applying for a job there. I am going to work hard and I am going to work there one day! I solemnly swear.

And then I got on a plane and flew to Hawaii. And now I live here. My life is made of magic.

I know it was last year, but in 2014 I met an astronaut. And I went to Boston Calling music festival and I saw my all-time favorite band Of Monsters and Men there. I saw the Decemberists in concert, too. And Hozier, Alabama Shakes, Daughter, CHVRCHES, Walk the Moon, alt-j, and the Avett Brothers. I love music.

In 2017, I am going to see the Legend of Zelda symphony orchestra. I can’t wait!

I listened to a lot of good music in 2016 too. I discovered rap and hip-hop. I listened to a lot of Beyoncé and I loved every second of Lemonade. I am setting an intention to learn more about music this year too.

I made all my dreams come true. See, that’s the thing with resolutions. People make it like it’s a wish list. Like, Oh it’d be so cool to see the Grand Canyon! I want to have a model’s body. I want to… It’s more like, a dream of what might happen if the world was magic and wishes came true just by saying them.

But you have to work at it. If you want to do something, go do it. Don’t just wish for it and hope it jumps out at you and just happens by magic. Make it happen. Work hard for it. Fight for it. You can do it, you just have to make that choice.

And my dreams come true because I dream it, I work hard, and I grind until I own it. Bring it on, 2017!

Where you from?

“Where are you from?”

“Where’d you grow up?”

“Where you from girl? You sure as hell ain’t from around here.”

I live here now.

“You might live here, but you ain’t from here.”

I’ve lived here for nearly half a year.

“Half a year is no time at all. You’ll never be able to call yourself a local here. You’re not from here.”

I’m the girl from nowhere. All my life, I’ve never been able to call any place home.

But I was born in New York City.

“You can’t call yourself a New Yorker. You were here before you could even remember anything. You come back now to live, you can’t call yourself a New Yorker. Where were you for 9/11?”

I lived in New Jersey for a second, but I prefer not to claim it. No one wants to be from New Jersey. They wouldn’t take me anyway.

I went to school in New England. Massachusetts, Connecticut. Mostly in Rhode Island.

“You’re not a Rhode Islander. You can’t say pahk the cah in our accent, you don’t know what a cabinet or a grinder is and you say quahog all wrong. You’ll always just be a transplant, not from here.”

I lived in Pennsylvania for a minute.

“You thought the Steelers were a baseball team? Get the hell out of here.”

I lived in the South for a while. North Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Louisiana. South Carolina for a spell.

“You’re a damn Yankee, ain’t nothing ever gonna change that. Go back north of the Mason-Dixon line, we don’t want you here.”

I wish I was kidding.

I lived in New Orleans.

“You’re not a New Orleanian. You’ll never be a New Orleanian. You’re part of the problem of gentrification. Where were you for Katrina?”

I lived in India… Enough said.

Sure, I found kind people everywhere I lived. But no one who ever said, “You can call this place home. This is where your roots are now.”

I’m rootless. From nowhere. I try to leave each place, and each person I meet, better than when I found them. And I hope I’m making that true. I want to leave behind a trail of compassion.

…Is it horrible and uncompassionate of me to want to stop, too? To want to stop and stay someplace, to want to call someplace home? To find ohana somewhere?

I suppose it is.

I’ll try to be better.