Lifestyle, Throwback

My Hopes for You This Year

Every once in a while, I’ll be bringing back an old post from a previous site. This one was originally published January 1 2015. 

It’s easy to wax nostalgic about the year that’s passed and easier to promise that the year that comes will be bigger and better; to hope that with the first of January comes a clean slate that will allow us to succeed where we once failed, laugh when we once cried, and love who we once didn’t. Grand plans and dreamy promises are easy to take with a glass of champagne but the headache that comes with the morning after the fireworks have faded often shows us that the year has changed but we have not. Once the reality has set in, the best we can do is hope – hope that we try harder to be better and that everyone else does the same.

This year, I hope that your goals are big but your heart is bigger. I hope that you work hard even when it’s hard to work, but that the hard times are few and far between. I hope your hard work yields results and I hope you have the wisdom to know when to stop working.

I hope you fall in love with someone, and that you fall more in love every day. I hope that you finally become your own biggest fan, instead of your own biggest critic. I hope you enthusiastically support yourself the way you would enthusiastically support your best friend. Be your own best friend.

Truly – I hope you take a lot of selfies. I hope you are happy with the way you look more days than you are not. I hope your inbox never becomes overwhelming and that the links in your newsfeed are quality more often than they are click bait. May we all stop falling for click bait.

Dance, sing, write, paint, carve, code, design, build – However you do it, I hope you create. I hope you spend time bringing something new into this world and I hope that you don’t just write and say words, but that you use words. Maybe that’s just my hope for me.

My hope for you is that you fight injustice in any small way that you can. I hope we make our already pretty good world a little bit better in the next year and that we retain the ability to know what’s good and what can get better. May we all realize that under the rainbows of skin color, gender and sex, accents, languages, and every other characteristic or preference that humans create and hold, we are all fundamentally the same. I hope you show everyone the same kind of understanding, appreciation, and love you’d want to receive yourself.

Waiters be generous to your tables, tables tip your waiters generously. May 2015 be the year we stop thinking it’s okay to pay them less than half the minimum wage (and maybe raise the minimum wage too). I hope you always have food on the table and a coat that’s warm. I hope you practice gratitude and show the people in your life that they matter.

I hope that in 365 days, when we’re all sitting around toasting to 2015 and dreaming about 2016, you are happy with what you started today. I hope that somewhere between the goals and the meetings and the successes and the heartbreaks, you found joy. I hope you find yourself proud of what you did and excited about next year.

Book Review

Readgasm: A Case of Rape, Chester Himes

This unfinished sketch of a fictional book that Chester Himes wanted to write is a complicated and tragic story of four African-American soldiers in Paris who are falsely charged with the rape and murder of a white American woman. The sketch sets out to criticize the way American racism leads to automatically condemning African-American men of crimes they didn’t commit, simply on the basis of color. A case is heard but hardly investigated, and the men are all found guilty. It is a real problem African-Americans faced, and Himes wasn’t the only writer raising his voice in protest against this particular result of racism.

I was somewhat disturbed by the way the murdered woman is largely written off as crazy, and how her specific case of mental health problems is sort of blamed for the false conviction of the four men. While the men are innocent of rape, two are guilty of manslaughter (at the very least), but Himes focuses only on the injustice the men are faced with, rather than the fact that this woman was, in the end, murdered because of racism.


If You Really Knew Me, You’d Know That…

What would I know if I really knew you?

When I meet new people, I like to ask them what their current obsession is. (Mine, right now, is writing. I just want to write all the things all the time and I don’t understand why I have to do other things like shower and eat and pay for stuff.) But I think I might start following it up with this question because damn, that’s a powerful one.

If you really knew me, you would know:

: That I’m terrible at dancing and singing, but I do them both a lot, and mostly unapologetically.

: That I’m cold pretty much all the time, except when I’m burning up hot. I’m constantly devising ways to keep my body temperature somewhere around comfortable.

: That I hate everything pumpkin related ever. I especially hate pumpkin spice lattes and all the pumpkin spice latte flavored things that they’ve spawned. I’m not in the least bit sorry about this.

: That I like any sort of coconut-related thing (coconut water, coconut scented candles and body lotion, coconut bras, the list goes on) but I really don’t like actual coconuts. I hate coconut shavings on things, and I generally don’t like how coconuts taste. I’m told this is bizarre.

: That I have a cat named Jay Catsby (photo above) who I rescued from the street in fall 2014. He is fancy and obnoxious.

: That I love writing, but I’ve done a couple podcast recordings and really enjoyed that format of sharing too. You can check out my episode of Boldly Going, in which I talk to my friend Jason Sowell about writing, the importance of failure, and entrepreneurship. I was also a guest on The Love Cast with my friend Jamal Jivanjee, where we talk about the non-profit life, moving to Paris, and my fight against depression.

: That at any given time I’m probably thinking about how to become a female Sherlock Holmes. I like being logical, I like figuring things out, and I’m into the idea of shooting at a wall because I’m bored.

: That I have long, drawn out conversations with animals. Out loud.

: That when I start to like something, I get obsessed with it. This is how I’ve basically memorized every song on the Hamilton soundtrack, watched all seven Star Wars movies in about four days, and how I launched RAFH in about a month.

: That two poems I wrote in middle school were published. You’d think this would give me more confidence in my writing, but it doesn’t.

So, now that you know a bit more about me — what would I know if I really knew you?

Book Review

On Classic Lit, Or As I Call It: Last Century’s “Viral”

photo by clem onojeghuo

Throughout high school and college I always had a feeling that classic lit basically “wasn’t cool.” I took a Shakespeare class in college (two, actually) because I was interested in it, but for the most part I got the feeling that most people thought most classic lit was to some extent pretentious, stodgy, boring, or any other version of “not fun to read.” There’s so much to read out there* that I largely just adopted that mentality and read other books that interested me, skipping the classics section all together.

This all changed quite abruptly earlier this year when I realized that classic books are just another generation’s viral content. Continue Reading…

Healing, Lifestyle

An Open Note For Everyone Who Is Feeling Hopeless Today

darkest hour only has sixty minutes

I almost cried on the metro today. Someone bumped into me–innocent mistake, it was rush hour, it was raining so more people were on board than usual. But I was frustrated and tired. I’d woken up a bit before seven local time to friends texting me the election results. Everyone was in shock, myself included. Shock gave way to fear, to anger. Standing on the RER B, I stared at the ceiling and fought back tears.

It was more than the early hour. It was more than the election. It was this fight. This fight for equal representation, for equal rights, for equal respect, consideration, life. Not just for me. For my POC friends, for my immigrant friends and family, for my Muslim friends, for my LGBTQIA friends, for my female friends, for my friends raising daughters.

I’ve been thinking more and more lately about how tired I am. I’m young, but I am already tired. Sometimes, as a woman I feel like we were born already fighting. The fight isn’t always visible, but it’s constant. The fight is the boss in DC that paid me half what he was paying my male counterpart. The fight is the customers in Dallas who thought I couldn’t know how to work an espresso machine because I’m a woman. The fight is the men in every city that catcall, that make clear that I am only welcome on their street as entertainment to satisfy their basest desires. The fight is the teachers in high school that didn’t believe/care/think important that I was raped, that my rapist was in my life and wasn’t planning on leaving.

The fight isn’t always visible, but it’s there.

On days like today, when it seems like we are making no headway in this fight for equality, when our country has heard a man insult and threaten the safety of a significant portion of our population and elected him anyway, it’s easy to be tired. It’s easy to want to give up, it’s easy to want to turn my back on the country that has continually turned it’s back on the people I care most about.

But late tonight, I made a promise to a friend–a friend who is an immigrant, who is a single mother working so hard to raise a daughter, a friend who is terrified. I made her a promise that when her daughter is old enough to know what’s happening, we’ll be doing better. I promised her that we will be doing better than this racism, this misogyny. Her daughter will live in a better world.

So, tomorrow we wake up and we fight again. Even when it feels like we are losing, we vote every day with our actions, our words, our fight. We put on our armor–our sweaters, our tennis shoes, our pants suits, our everyday armor–and we fight another day. It is in these moments of darkness that we can be the light. For ourselves, sure, but for our daughters, for all our children. We fight another day.

Book Review

Readgasm: The Good Immigrant, edited by Nikesh Shukla

the good immigrant collection of essays

In the weeks since it’s publication, I’ve been hearing about The Good Immigrant everywhere. This collection of essays from writers in the UK has grabbed the world’s attention and held it, and with good reason. This unflinching dialogue of what it means to be a ‘good immigrant’ has come at just the time when our world seems to be grappling with xenophobia and racism on a level we thought we (we being white people in places like the US and the UK) were past. We were wrong.  Continue Reading…


Stop Running Yourself Into the Ground

As I type this, I have almost completely lost my voice, probably due to allergies or stress or yet another cold. I’d like to blame this on the fact that I’m constantly being exposed to new germs (and more people than normal) while in Europe, but the fact is that it’s at least in part because I haven’t been taking very good care of myself lately. (This post could probably just be a note to myself, but I’m going to go ahead and assume that if I’m going through this, so is someone else out there.) Continue Reading…

Guest Author, Travel

Last Night in Amsterdam

buildings in amsterdam

Every once in a while, RAFH includes guest posts from world travelers and explorers. Today we have a story about Amsterdam from US-based Jessica Willingham. You can read more about Jess below, and if you want to submit your travel story you can do so here.

I sit in a drizzling, dark rain in Amsterdam, watching pink lights pulse in the nightclubs. I can make out bodies swaying, friends laughing, and Fifth Harmony’s “Work From Home” pouring into the street. I love that song, which seems to be playing everywhere lately. My heart burns with absolute jealousy.

Damn it. I think. I need some friends. Continue Reading…