Work in Progress

I’ve never been caught stealing. I’ve gotten away with it every time. Except the last. But I wasn’t stealing. I was just accused of stealing. And I got caught in the whirlwind of accusations because I thought about stealing, and I was so used to dong it, but I didn’t. I’ve been wrongly accused. But I’ve never been caught.
I’ve stolen from men as if they each were a blind clerk, running a convenience store, or a shopping mall, or a Tiffany’s. I manipulate them to give me what I want. Or, I simply take it. I smile, twist my hair around my finger, and stair up with my wide blue eyes, and I rob them hollow. But this last time, I smiled, twisted my hair around my finger, and stared up at him, and I thought I saw magic. I started to deceive him with my trick when I stopped, because he gave me flowers that he pulled from his hat. What I didn’t realize, though, is that they were fake flowers. I only realized when he was gone. Once he left me with the condemning evidence.

I read a story once. About sunflowers. A young girl was growing them and smuggling them to her neighbors. The story took place sometime in the future where love is all but lost and Big Brother is a term no one dared to hint at. The world had turned grey and hard. Cold even. Like concrete in the winter. The girl smuggled sunflowers for love. To spread joy. Life, I guess, in such hopeless, mindless wanderings. But, like me, she was caught. The police took her and sentenced her to a life in an even smaller world of cold, monotony. She sat in her walled cell, her legs spread long in front of her and her arms resting like limp petals at her side. The girl found virtue in this place, though. The way she serenaded her sunflowers and willed them to grow, she sang lullabies to herself and kept her eyes closed tightly, fighting back the only way she could—in her mind. Over time her legs grew thicker and her toes grew long, branching down and through the concrete. Her arms stretched wide, pushing the limits of the dull, cell walls. And her neck lengthened upwards, turning her nose towards the sky, where she had always imagined the sun, or heaven, might be. The walls bent and cracked and the concrete crumbled into ashes. She was free. Free to grow. Free to love. Free to spread joy. Free to create life, again. And that’s where the story ended. But, I wonder, what did she see when she broke from the concrete? Did she find her sunflowers had done the same thing—willing themselves to grow, and immersing themselves in battle against authority? Or, did she find something worse than concrete and fiery eyes of numb power? Maybe she saw nothing at all. Not even shadows. Not even concrete. Was she alone? Without her sunflowers? And, without her oppressors?

I felt a chill against my shoulder. The fog had started to roll in. We drove upwards, towards the treetops. But I was all too aware of our place on the ground. He smiled and asked me a question that I ignored. His smile was one of sympathy. I responded with a short and heavy word. Turning towards the window, hoping the movement behind the glass would slow to a stop, a saltwater thief crept from the corner of my eye. I reached up to wipe it away.
“Are you crying?”
I closed my eyes, holding back the others criminals, hoping I would wake up somewhere else when I opened my eyes once more.
But he pushed harder. “Jessica, what’s wrong?” He took his eyes from the road and placed them on me.
“I just don’t feel very strong today.”
We drove silently the rest of the way up the hills and into the redwood forest. He took hold of my hand as we began walking down the dirt path, deeper, into the shade of the trees. He began talking to me. At me, maybe. Suddenly his tone shifted and became darker, deeper. I froze and he didn’t, only noticing my lack of movement and statued frame when the shift in momentum pulled our hands apart. He turned and I stood still, trying to fight the damage that had already been done. He didn’t think I’d notice that he’d started to cut me, from the middle of my thigh up. But, the woods only became red when he shed my blood on their bark.

I sat at the edge of the Bay, wondering where my life was heading. I had been sentenced once, for a crime I never committed. Well, in that instance. My life had morphed to shambles. Blackberry bushes on a hillside. Full of ripe and bursting purple, but tainted with thorns and made a home by spiders. I plunged my hand into the brambles, reaching for the perfect bunch of berries, and I was bitten. Some combination of the surprise, the pain, and the sheer disappointment caused me to lose footing. I stepped back, a human instinct, and tumbled down the hill. I rolled over rocks and sticks, my body trampled a small patch of sunflowers, and I was poked in the eye by the grass, on my way down.
“As you wish.”
I recalled the line from the Princess Bride and laughed in humble shame. True love doesn’t exist.

I’ve been robbed.

<3

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Blasphemy.

Is it okay to curse God?

I was at the marina yesterday, and as I was sitting on the rocks, staring out at the waves and the wind surfers, I squinted my eyes with a fiery angst and said, “Fuck you.”
Now, to any normal human, any average passerby, it would have looked as if I was either crazy, delusional, or really angry at the Bay. But, while I’m a little bit of all those things, I wasn’t cursing the ocean or the people sailing across it. I was cursing God.
I thought, “Who the fuck are you? Why do you think that you can keep doing this to me? Or letting this happen? What am I to you? Yes, this is what you’ve given me and I’m grateful because I’m learning and blah blah blah…but really…What the fuck?”
Before I walked back over the dirt and gravel to my bug stained car, I took one more long breath, looked across the water, pushed away the embrace of the wind, and said another bold, “Fuck you.”

“Fuck you.”

I suppose, “Can you curse God,” is not the real question.
I can curse God.
I can tell him to fuck off.
And I did.

But should we?

What does it do? What does it accomplish?
Will it bring us God’s mighty wrath? Will it turn us into Jobs? Will it hurt his feelings? Will it make him stop loving us? Will it just bring us guilt in two years when we look back and realize, God was right, and things worked out for the best?
Who knows..

This was not my first time cursing God. And I’m sure it wont be my last.

I’m not sure what I’ve gotten from God, but only sometimes do I want more of it.

Either way, whether or not God can hear us, or cares to, and whether or not we are punished for what we say, I know what I know, and I feel what I feel.

I’m starting to believe that God has his moods too, just like me.

God responds differently every time I curse him, every time I bring him my hurt and anger.
But, I think he loves it–maybe doesn’t like it, but I think he appreciates it.
He Sees that I’m not just bringing him curses or anger or pain, but I am bringing him my heart, in the state that it is in. I am giving him all of me.
And, isn’t that what God wants?
I bring him the truth. My truth.
I bring him Truth.
I bring him honesty.
I bring him, me.
No more masks and no more hiding.

So, for now, I gift to God a “fuck you.”
Because that’s what I have to give.

He knows my heart. He Sees it. And he understands.

<3

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Superhero Status

Okay, my trusted followers, I’ve got another update for you.
I feel like a total Badass.
5 Things:

1. Jesse and I broke up.
For all of you that were convinced of our future matrimony—umm I’m sorry for your loss?
Jesse and I broke up about a week or so after we moved to California.  The details are, honestly, none of your business, but if you’re close to me and you feel it appropriate to ask, I’d be free to share them with you.
We’re moving on.  And it’s time.

2. I still live in California.
After Jesse and I broke up, moved back home for a while (a week and a half or so) to regroup, celebrate the holiday (July 4th), surround myself with people I love, and find a place to live.
I flew back to the Bay with my mom to do a house-hunt and ended two days later with a beautiful little studio apartment in Berkeley.
I stayed and moved in while my mom flew back home.
So, I live in Berkeley and it’s great!

3. I’m Okay.
I know some of you will read all of this and think I’m devastated, but I’m okay.  I’m starting a life here in California, independently, and for myself.
I am putting myself out there, meeting new people, stepping out of my comfort zone, and looking to start/build my career.
I’m having a lot of fun and really making a place for myself here.
I’m done more than okay.  I’m doing really well.

4. I’m job/volunteer/internship hunting.
As some of you know, I ended my time at PLU with a desire to pursue work with incarcerated women.  Well, that’s still a thing.  Unfortunately, most of that work doesn’t pay..  So, I’m working on getting some different volunteer and internship opportunities to build up my resume, learn more about the field, and develop networks and connections.  I’m also doing a full-time job hunt to find a job (alongside volunteering/internshiping) in order to pay the bills–Because OH LORD!!! is it expensive to live in this city!!!

5.  I miss and love you all and I’m sorry if I don’t/can’t get back to you.
I’m having a difficult time managing all of these different transitions and responsibilities all at once, especially while trying to meet new people and make new friends in this area.
I just want to be clear that if I don’t get back to you when you call or text or something, it’s simply because I’m so busy and it’s difficult to find much time.
I will get back to you eventually, because I do want to hear about all of your lives and keep you updated on mine.

Phew!
Okay, update over.

I’ll be trying to post a bit more as I’m living here–but once I get a bit more settled.
I’d love your comments, questions, updates on your lives, etc…

I’ll see you all again soon ;)

<3

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Argentina

We have officially left Buenos Aires and are now in a more southern and inland part of Argentina.
We left Buenos Aires this morning, just before 10am, and arrived in El Califate around 3 or 4pm.  
After settling into our hostel, we immediately explored the little, now touristy, town.  We found some great souvenir shops, some fantastic ice cream, and beautiful sights!  
I’m not sure what we are doing tomorrow–maybe a hike, maybe a tour, who knows..–but tomorrow is our last full day in El Califate before we continue on.  
I will continue to update you all when I can.

<3

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2014 J-Term

Okay, y’all.  I’m back on the road.
I arrived in Buenos Aires, Argentina this morning around 10:30 am after a 5 hour flight to Houston and a 10 hour flight to SA.
We arrived, got settled into our hotel, explored a little on our own, and then went on a walking tour of a small piece of the city.
It was fabulous!
It’s so strange being in a city like this, yet it is absolutely amazing.
I am having so much fun so far, but I am exhausted.
I hardly spoke at dinner because I was so sleepy.
But, the day has been a fantastic start to this wondrous month-long journey–especially because it started out with finding a butterfly and some beautiful rooftop views!
Anywhoo, like I said, I’m falling asleep on my keyboard….but I will post updates and travel logs along the way, when I can, and take you all along this journey with me.
I love and miss you all.

<3

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Who Is She?

Who is She?

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Who was I?

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How did I grow?

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How did I transform?

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Who did I become?

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How did I change?

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Who did I become?

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Who was I?

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How did that crumble?

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Or did it, even?

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Who am I?

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Who am I?

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Who am I?

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Who am I?

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And who will I become?

Demonstration of Freedom (Greece)

<3

God only knows.

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To be blunt..

Okay, here it goes…

People have been refusing to talk with me directly about their thoughts or concerns about where I now stand.
People have been refusing to ask me any real questions but instead ask the people around me.
People speak about me as if I am a lost soul that needs redirecting.
People look at me and see whatever it is they THINK they, or I, lost.
People have now decided not to get to know me again but to, instead, decide for me who I am, what I’m doing, where I’m going, and why.

Some people have chosen to see the worst in me, whether or no it’s there.

And let me tell you, it hurts.
It’s disappointing.
It’s infuriating.

And I am done with it.

All I want to make clear here is that you are losing me.

And I will not fight to stay apart of a community that is ashamed of me for things that aren’t real.

I still have faith.
I understand love more than I ever have in my life and I know how to use it now.
I have discovered a passion for humanity that I never knew was in me.
I’ve not given up on God.
I have not given up on myself.
I am moving forward the way I need to.  For me.

And there’s still more to say.

So ask me something.
Talk to me.
I want to talk about this.  I want to share what I’ve learned and what I now understand to be true and why.
I’m still open.

Read 1 Corinthians 13 again.

Learn how to love me for who I am, not for who you Think I am, and not for who I might become.
I am learning to love too.

<3

 

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Sunflower.

Once upon a time, there was a small girl.
She grew up with flowers in her hair.
She grew up dreaming of Love and God and Change.
She fantasized about her past and she only drifted through thoughts of her future.
She was an odd one.
She ate gourmet cheeses and sipped wine.
She fancied mud pies and hosted dinner parties to serve them.
She wanted to fly and believed that she could.
She danced in her dreams and took flight in her nightmares.
She was an odd one.
The little girl, she was aware of only the world around her–at least at first.
As she grew older, she quickly developed her other senses.
She became aware of more than just her own little world.
She adjusted her eyes to see the light of day in the world she only knew as from a dream.
She opened her eyes in the very darkness of that world to see the glow of something horrifically beautiful.
She found butterflies in the most unexpected places:  Under rocks.  Scattered throughout the clouds.  In His eyes.  In her own heart.
And they were all so unique.  They were black with gold flakes.  They were yellow with blue outlines.  They were grey with the most subtle undertones of the most unspeakable mysticism.
She found life and she embraced it.
She fell in love.  Oh, Lord, did she fall hard.  Sometimes it caused her pain.  And other times it gave her hope or restored her faith.
But, my oh my, did she change.

<3

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This is only the Beginning…

Okay y’all, it’s about time for me to head back to the U.S.

I have spent the last week or so on a crazy safari adventure with my wonderful mama.

We have gone all through Uganda, trekking gorillas, searching for chimpanzees, meeting lions, making friends with elephants, being silly with monkeys, inspecting zebras, analyzing pumbas (warthogs), photographing antelopes, flying with the birds, swimming with hippos, and discovering some beautifully rare sights.

We got attacked by every bug in Southern Uganda.

We made friends with some lovely new people.

We celebrated my 21st Birthday!!!!!  With the lions, the hippos, and the ELEPHANTS!!!!!  And also with the amazing new friends we made–and they all came out singing me “Happy Birthday” and carrying a huge cake, decorated with orange and green icing, saying, “Happy Birth Day Jessica Rae Dexter!!!! 21st!!!!”, and further decorated with delicious pineapple slices and 2 giant, burning candlesticks!  

I had a great discussion about Rwandan society and politics with a stranger I met in a bar.

We finally got our crazy awkward safari guide out of his shell and now he is soooo much fun and we love him dearly :)

We watched the Uganda Cranes win the football match!!!

We bought tons of street food.

We were on both sides of the equator at one time!

I ate the best banana pancake EVER.

And so much more!!!
But it is all wayyy too much to type out so ask me about it!!  I can’t wait to share more details with y’all!!!

Mom, James, and I drive from Kampala to Entebe tomorrow (stopping for rolexes on the way!) and I board a flight to Amsterdam (to then board a flight to Seattle) tomorrow night.
And then, I will finally be back in the states, after 5 months in East Africa, on June 17th at 11:35 am. 
Woah.
Crazy!

But I can’t wait to see you all again and share with you all the mind-blowing adventures I have managed to get myself into!

But until then….

<3

This is the end of one journey.
But.
This is only the beginning of a whole new adventure.
:)

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Rwanda to Uganda to Tanzania and Back.

Well folks, it’s time for another blog.
Since I last wrote, lots has happened…(I’m starting to see a pattern in my blog posts….)

I got back to Kigali from my Great Lakes Adventure and started living with Jesse and his host family in Kanombe.  Living there was incredible!  I actually felt like I was a part of a family that loved me and I had so much fun getting to know everyone in my new Rwandan family :)  I love them so much!

After a while of living here, some great adventures with Jesse, and some other incredible things, I had to say goodbye..for now.
I took Jesse to the airport and then left for the airport myself the next morning.
I spent 2 days or so in Entebe, Uganda by my lonesome getting myself into some strange predicaments, processing the last 4 months, and making new friends.

Then, I finally got to see my beautiful mother again!!!!!!!!!!
I met my mom on the morning of the 31’s in the airport and after a ton of ridiculous airport drama and tears, we finally made it to Zanzibar.

Now, Zanz was incredible.  We stayed in Stonetown and didn’t really venture too much out of that simply because we lost 2 days in the airport because this airline was so stupid..
But in Stonetown, I made some new friends, bought some awesome Indian hippie pants, found the cultural arts center, met a man named Amour who did stunning carpentry, fell in love with this drink made out of sugar cane, ginger, and lime, ate some crazy nasty fish, learned some Swahili, rediscovered my love of the sea, finally swam in the Atlantic Ocean, got some beautiful hennas, and spent some really good quality time with my mama who I have missed like crazy over the last 4 months.

[Quick Tangent]
Here’s a quick lesson in Swahili:
Jambo – Hello
Asanti (asana) – Thank you (so much)
Mambo – How are you (casual)
Poa – Fine (casual)
Habari yako – How are you (formal)
Mzuri – Fine (formal)
Lala Salama – Safe Sleeping
Karafuu – Clovers
Tembo – Elephant
Habari ya asubuhi – Good morning (how is your morning)
Habari ya jioni – Good afternoon
Habari ya usiku – Good evening
[response] Nzuri – Fine
Twigwa – Giraffe
Dio – Yes
Napana – No

[Okay.  Tangent over.]

Now, mom and I have left Tanzania (at 4 am I might add….) and are back in Kigali.
It was weird coming home here.  It was scary to get on a plane and come back to this place.  It’s always surprisingly hard for me, coming home..
But we;re here and I’m showing my mom around and it’s been incredible.  I’m so glad that she’s finally being able to see everything I’ve been living for the past 4 months!

We leave for Uganda soon and then to fly back to the states.

Friends, it has been the most indescribable adventure so far, and it’s not even over yet!

<3

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