On the Road to Reconstruction with Imprint of Hope
On the road to reconstruction in Baghdad, with volunteer teams from the Imprint of Hope organisation, who have spent over 15 days, doing up the replica Assyrian city gate and the land surrounding it.
From the early hours until late into the night, work included redeveloping the gardens surrounding the gate, trimming the palm trees, washing and removing old paint from the gate, before applying fresh layers to the structure.
This ongoing campaign, is a small but starting point, to recreate both hope and positivity in Iraqi society and Imprint of Hope will continue to reflect this bright image, which in the past has made Iraq truly great.
Since it was founded, Imprint of Hope has painted hundreds of blast walls across Baghdad. It has swelled to more than 370 volunteers from a range of backgrounds, including students, carpenters, iron-smiths, artists and doctors.
In addition to decorating the city’s walls, Imprint of Hope also paints orphanages, nurseries and public buildings, including a children’s cancer hospital.
Last December for Christmas, Imprint of Hope painted the Our Lady of Salvation Catholic Church, which was heavily damaged in a 2010 terror attack. They also painted murals on the blast walls, that were set up to protect the church from further attacks.
to sipping early 2000’s indie movies like we’re fourteen
opaque flashbacks of high school tattooed to
lined paper in journals and holes in our bodies
earbuds and murals and green hills
and the boy with the leather jacket
to knowing it never has to end, for some it never will
our time stretched out like sour taffy rather than four closed books
and here is
to the knowing it never will be the same
where the staleness of air and mondays disappear
all for a piece of paper
here is to where we used to sit and cry when we swore
we couldn’t take it any longer
to the numbing, the feeling, the finding, the reaching
to the best, to the worst, to the ache in my chest
when i said i couldn’t feel the hurt
a frame of time spanning four birthdays
it is that simple; it is that scary
a self-defined mantra of our teenhood
here it is
and always will be
my high school diploma doesn’t have enough words written on it
I Had A Month Or Two Where Weird Things Kept Happening To Me
For about a month or two, inexplicable things kept happening to me. It was like I had a guardian angel who was helping me with small, trivial inconveniences. Here are 3 things that occurred that really stood out:
First: In band camp, we stayed in dorms that had our own bedrooms. The doors of these bedrooms locked automatically when you left the room, so it was important that you had your key with you at all times. I specifically know that my door was always locked after I would exit the door and close it, because often I would forget something in my room and turn around and (forgetting that it was locked) try to open it and be unable to.
One day I was running late to one of the practices. I left my room and closed the door and realized I left the key to the room on my bed. Shit, I was locked out. Or so I thought. I then tried to open the door anyway, and for some odd reason, it did open. Not sure how the door managed to malfunction just when I needed it to. I then grabbed the key and closed the door again, tried to open it, and it was locked like it should be.
Second: One night, I had a bunch of acne creams on my face and had nothing to hold my hair back as I slept. I did not want stray hairs around my face to get in the acne medication, but I did not want to use a head band to keep my hair back because then there would be a crease in my hair when I woke up. I remember thinking that bobby pins would do the trick. I often needed bobby pins and looked for them a lot, but could never find a single one because I hadn’t bought any in a year or two.
That night I decided to look around my room to see if I could find any anyway. I opened my drawer in my vanity and I found 10 bright yellow bobby pins. Immediately I was weirded out because I had no idea where they came from. It was a drawer I used a lot, and I had never seen them in there before. Also, who owns bright YELLOW bobby pins? Blonde makes sense, but these were yellow. I then put them all in my hair and went to sleep.
The next morning I took them out and put them on a tray on my vanity so I could use them the next night. That night when I returned to my room and reached for them, they were gone. I haven’t seen them since.
Third: My best friend and I like to paint walls. I was at his house one day and we were sitting on the ground with open cans of paint all around us, planning our mural for the day. At one point he took a small paint brush, dipped it into a can or grey paint, and then realizing he did not need it, tossed it into a paint tray on the ground. The paint brush ended up going a little too far, and skipped the tray and landed on my jeans. It actually landed on my jeans twice, so there was a stain of wet paint on both legs of my jeans.
I pretended to yell at my friend because they were my only pair of jeans, though I didn’t really care much. We talked about it for a minute or two and then moved on. About 15 minutes later I looked back down at my jeans. There was absolutely no paint anywhere. Not a single trace. Not even a faint stain on either leg.
I Had An Unexplained “Result” With An Electronics Experiment In 1997
I’m currently graduating with an electronics-related degree, with a lot of knowledge in electronic circuits and how electronic components work. However one experiment I did almost two decades ago still eludes me to this day.
When I was a lot younger and had a lot more free time, I used to build electric model cars. They aren’t the fancy remote control ones, just basic motors and batteries to make them move forwards or in circles. Electric motors can only spin when both wires are connected properly to a power source, since a complete circuit with proper connections are required for any electronic component to work.
Well, one November in 1997, I was trying to win an electric car drag race with a few friends. I decided to use four motors in parallel. My idea was to put one motor on each wheel.
To try if a single D-cell can power four tape deck motors, I connected four motors together and then connected my D-cell battery. The four motors, placed close to each other, started spinning up and reaching maximum speed with no issue.
Totally normal. Or so I thought.
I clearly observed Motor #3 spinning at top speed with one of it’s bright yellow wires clearly disconnected. This is impossible, Motor #3 should be stopped. But it’s clearly spinning at top speed.
In shock, and in awe, I just had to get my giant Sony Handicam to record this phenomenon. After digging for 5 minutes for a blank 8mm Cassette, I attempted to reproduce the condition fruitlessly for three hours. Motor #3 behaved normally and would not spin up with the same conditions as before (one wire disconnected). Unfortunately, I gave up on attempting to reproduce and just went ahead as normal.
To this day I have no explanation of how one motor was able to operate in an open circuit. One of my theories was I had the four motors clustered together, and somehow the changing magnetic fields of Motors 1, 2 and 4 were able to somehow induce an electric current to the Rotor of Motor #3. However I must have tried millions of positions, moving and positioning each motor in specific places. None of it worked.
To this day I was unable to reproduce the “Wireless Motor Effect” (as I called it in my notes) of November 1997. I think I just encountered a momentary glitch with the matrix.
Was I In Two Places At Once Or Just Dreaming?
Full disclaimer: This happened after I had been awake for over 20 hours, and previously only sleeping about 3 hours. I am definitely not a reliable narrator here, but there’s still enough of a “That was weird?” to make me wonder and share.
As I said, I was completely exhausted. It was a bit after 8PM last night, and we had just gotten the kids to bed. My wife was running to the grocery store to pick up a few things, and I trying to decide if I wanted to turn in for the night, or try to stay up a bit longer to check out the Olympics opening ceremony. I was debating this while lying on the bed, which of course means I fell asleep.
A bit later, I woke to some commotion downstairs I went down to the kitchen to find my wife putting groceries away. She asked if I was going to bed, and slightly perturbed, I replied with something to the effect of I was sleeping but her being so loud putting groceries away woke me back up, so I might as well stay up at that point. She was confused and asked what I meant - I was coming down the steps to the living room as she came back in the front door from the grocery store, and even asked if she needed any help putting the groceries away.
Approximately 3 years ago I was walking to bed one night and it was pretty late and pitch black in the house. I get to my opened bedroom door and try to get in (I was going to bed). I say that I was trying to get in, because something rather large was blocking the doorway. The way it was blocking it was from inside the door frame- which means if someone did put it there, they’d be in the room as well because it would have been impossible to get out of the room with it in the door frame.
Immediately I thought it was a mattress from the bed, because it had the right feel to it and the right size, just about. I kept pushing against it, to no avail. It wouldn’t budge. My daughter was asleep in her room, my boyfriend was in the living room. I ran back to the living room scared to death freaking out. The way my house is was living room, kitchen, hallway a bedroom on the right (my daughter’s) our bedroom at the end of the hallway. The bathroom was next to my daughters room in between her room and ours. So it’s a straight shot and nobody can walk down the hallway without making noise (very creaky floor) and I was just sitting on the couch trying to calm myself down. This took about 30 seconds and there were no sounds of anyone walking in the hall.
I walked into the hallway and turned on the hall light this time. I could see nothing blocking the doorway of the room. I went in and the bed was still made, not messed up like it’d be if someone did that as a gag and 30 seconds is not long enough to put a mattress back and make a bed like that. Still creeps me out whenever I think about it.
Weirder yet: A week before that, I had moved the bed- guess where the mattress was put while I did that? Yes, against the door frame stood up. But it was broad daylight. Somehow I think I had a time/space overlap from a week prior to that night.
I am nervous about going to Pride this Saturday. But am I not supposed to go because I’m a little scared? That’s silly. I’m nervous about even going to the movies, to be honest. I remember a few weeks after the shooting, I went to see a matinee of Finding Dory with my mom. A man walked in a few minutes late and immediately my brain went to: Where are the nearest exits? What can I make into a weapon? How fast can I crawl?
I am nervous because when I moved to California and went to a doctor to get my medical marijuana card, he saw that I’d written PTSD on my application and asked, “Are you a veteran?” I told him I just moved here from Orlando, where 49 queer Latinx people were killed at my home nightclub. He shrugged. Not a veteran. I told him I also had carpel tunnel from writing, fully a lie. He nodded in approval.
I am nervous because when I told someone else I felt like I had PTSD, she asked, “Were you even there?” She backpedaled after that, said something like, “Not that it matters.” But like, it was too late. She said it.
I am nervous because when another woman asked about the heartbeat tattoo on my wrist and I answered honestly, she turned and theatrically whispered, “Yikes. You never know what people are going to say.” That’s when I knew to start lying and telling people that it’s just a check-mark. I got it in college when I was drunk. Haha.
A weird thing I wrote about my tattoo that I don’t plan on using for anything:
Back in the sleepy town of Riverside,
California, weeks go by between mentions of Pulse. Discussions of news fatigue
crowd already packed Facebook feeds. How can we balance remembering Pulse and
still find time to follow seemingly never-ending stories of government
corruption, civil rights violations against indigenous people in Dakota,
Russian intervention in the presidential election, African American men, women,
and children murdered by an increasingly militarized police force, the
defunding of Planned Parenthood, novel voter suppression tactics, violence
against transgender men and women who dare to use public restrooms, and so on? How
can we remember the past, when every day the future feels more obscure and volatile
I have not seen a single Pulse t-shirt in
Riverside. There are no murals with rainbows or doves representing the 49
victims, no #OrlandoStrong bumper stickers. When I moved across the country, I
imagined it would be a relief to not be constantly reminded of the shooting,
but I did not imagine that talk of it would completely die.
At a Middle Eastern restaurant, a waitress
recently pointed out the heartbeat tattoo on my wrist. “Does it mean anything?”
she asked, making pleasant small-talk. She had a tattoo of a square on her
index finger and she was interested in knowing if mine hurt.
I thought about telling her. It’s a
heartbeat. A pulse. I got it in the days after the shooting so that I wouldn’t
go a day without remembering.
She looked like she may have been in her
20s, tired but strong enough to do this for a few more hours. The restaurant
was congested. A belly dancer was shaking her hips between the tables, and a
father at a nearby table egged his toddler daughter to go dance with her.
The waitress waited for my answer, her pen
on her pad like a therapist. I could have, like so many other times when I
decided to be honest about the tattoo, ruined her night, or at least made her
momentarily uncomfortable. But there is a fine line between remembering tragedy
on your own terms and springing it on an unsuspecting stranger.
“It’s just a squiggly line,” I told her,
shrugging my shoulders.
Riverside may not remember Pulse, but it has
plenty of scars of its own to confront.
My first week in the city, scoping out my
new school, I found myself passing through a tunnel that leads to campus.
Painted on its walls is a mural. There are black scientists, brown bodies
frozen in yoga poses, indigenous and white children playing with baskets. I
stared blankly at a life-size depiction of an Asian man in a laboratory coat
holding a glass vial, wondering who he was and what he did to warrant being
remembered. The mural had long ago been neglected. When I stepped closer, I
could see cracks in the paint near his face like wrinkles.
In Orlando: The 49
doves painted on the wall of an Einstein Bagels, the hands spelling out the word love in sign language on a pizza shop downtown, the rainbow
section at the Orlando City Soccer stadium. Long after we remember Pulse, is
that all that will be left of us, too? Those who lived will remember the dead,
and when we die and there is no one to look after our murals, then, at last,
will we be done with this mess of remembering and finally free?
“What about your square?” I asked.
waitress finished jotting something down on her pad, then looked up at me and
“Oh, it’s just a square,” she said. “It
doesn’t mean anything either.”
The belly dancer spun the little girl in
circles. Mimicking the older woman, she pressed her small hands on her hips and
shook them from side to side while her father gave her a thumbs up. The song
ended and they both took a bow. For a moment, the restaurant erupted into
applause, the belly dancer blushing in the limelight. She walked the little
girl to her family and deposited her into her father’s arms. I looked back down
at my tattoo, the ink already fading in places where my friend didn’t stick the
needle deep enough. One-by-one, the clapping dropped away and we all turned our
attention back to our tables.
I am nervous because I have probably one of the strangest essays I’ve ever written coming out on the anniversary. An essay I worked on at the graduate school that I get to go to because I didn’t end up going to the bar that night. An essay that marks the first piece of writing I’m getting a real check from (not $13 for an interview, not $20 for a book review). I’m nervous because I feel guilty succeeding but also have an immense pressure to. Even as a queer, brown, Latinx person from Orlando, I sometimes ask myself, “Who are you to tell this story?”
I’m nervous because I don’t want to have to keep talking about it, but who else is going to keep that place alive?
I don’t have a lot of pictures from Pulse, but these two are my favorite:
When I was 18. This was probably my first or second time there. I had to sneak out of my bedroom window to get into my friend Jose’s car because, duh, my mom wouldn’t have let me go. Jose was a drag queen–and in retrospect, kind of a bad one. He had one dress and used his real eyebrows. But he got me in for free. I was obsessed with Myspace fame at the time, and because I wanted to look like the kind of person who went to bars, I had him stop in the middle of the dance floor and take pictures of me looking cool and distant, too busy to look into the lens or reflect on my own eyebrow journey.
A few years later, I finally found the lens. But by then I had already lost my dang mind.
Worked with my friend Reigis to make this for a series of murals at our school’s art festival! We were asked to recreate something already existing, so I brought up the Splatoon official art bc of their already painterly-chalk-ish look. Several people recognized this girl!
I recently came across a fantastic mural by Fantastic mural, “Our grandfathers invented the zero, and their grandchildren became zeroes” (top image) by Yazan Halwani
Halwani says, he wants to instigate “cross-cultural conversations” and to inspire a “positive view of the Arab world.” He’s been challenging the status quo with prominent murals around Lebanon’s capital city which has earned him the nickname Beirut’s Banksy.
Halwani has been credited with spawning the ‘calligraffiti’ movement after discovering one of his uncle’s calligraphy books.
blackmoor manor is the ugliest effing house ever though lbr
yeah that’s our Egyptian print completely unrelated to anything else in the house, we got it for 6.99 at Poundstretcher. we keep it right next to our gay pride mural
ah yes, this one we call the migraine hallway.
found this in a skip outside Dobbies Garden World. he knows your dirtiest secrets
this looks like it belongs on the walls of a luxury “Parisian” brothel
architect of blackmoor manor, probably: haha you know what would look frosty w our black brick walls and lack of windows? black marble man. lots of it. *takes huge bong hit* also all the light should be totally dark green