Tag Archives: sambusa

Colder Than Mars

My husband wrote this song last winter (which was a hard and good one for us). I love how he weaves in so much (references to The Abyss, an obscure McSweeney’s book called Giraffes? Giraffes! and all of our favorite snacks). I also love how it showcases his deeply earnest yet totally goofy personality. As my friend Nate Allen describes it: this is the kind of music a therapist records in his basement. Because it totally is.

Anyways, it seems like creativity has been a key component of mental health for us, balancing the weight of the world we find ourselves in and getting lost in words and beats. To all of you who, like myself, the winters can be hard on, this song is for you.







Colder Than Mars

by The Maiden Name


we go to malls when it snows and we don’t buy a thing
and hold keys to cars we don’t own on our rings
and when we lie down, I can feel the oxytocin flow
like the Mississippi runs in the spring
if we’d stuck to applied sciences,
we might have ended up with better appliances
but anthills pop up through the carpet, yeah
our apartment’s kind of an armpit, yeah
no pork at our parties, chicken is safest,
and in minneapolis sambusas are the greatest
orange fanta, sans-ice
goat, basta, injeera, ricemy wife swears the vikings are a hockey team
because of the ice
I correct her, “that’s a basketball team, you know”
but I try to say it nice

we shop at the co-op, pick up some supplements at the food-shelf
we buy what we can from the farmers,
and then get what we can where we can wherever else.
pita or pancake? why is everyone snacking on my sidewalk?
spiced with ginger and mandrake!
I’m not gonna pick it up and put in my pocket
we drink what it see, drain it down, even up to the dregs
let it sit deep within us, like fruit juices in giraffe’s legs

what if to submerge is like the Abyss?
I mean the film from 1989
that I watched in 7th grade, with horror,
as that rat’s eyes met mine
he shrieked and tried not to drown,
but he couldn’t resist,
such a struggle in the brine
his lungs filled with water and he survived with clenched fists
[I mean paws, clenched paws]

its colder than mars here, and we import snow by the pounds
and doors are locked and closed,
from the first snow til the thaw of the ground
we’re all gonna die of loneliness, cozy with just ourselves,
only ourselves and a bottle of vodka taken down off the shelf
across the hall, paper thin walls, our salvation is bound up together
it’s not what we saw, but we heard the falls,
as we waited day and night through the weather
and if the sun ever comes out to greet us, we’ll beat it with a brick
and threaten, “if you ever try to defect again,
it’s over, we’ll finish the job, and this time we mean it.”


from Colder Than Mars Demos, released 15 March 2015
Be sure to go check out his bandcamp page. He is the best boy.



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D.L. Recommends vol. 2

D.L. Recommends vol. 2. 

Here are some things I recommend:




Busting out the Easter Dress Early

I got Ramona an Easter dress at the thrift store that gets all of it’s clothes donated from Target (I know. I found a way to work the system). Yesterday was nearly 60 degrees, so I had to let her wear it early. And go tromp around in the muddy rivers the snow was making. Because you are only 3 once.


Turning 30

It’s really quite nice.


Reframing the words to excellent songs in order to make them Toddler Appropriate

I used to sing “Oh Yoko” to my daughter when she was a baby, but I changed “Yoko” to her name, and the chorus became “my love will lead you home”. Tonight we danced around and sang it to each other. It was pretty great. Very Rushmore-esq.



This is a book by Micha Boyett. I love the poetic-ness, and how she juxtaposes the mundane aspects of the stay-at-home life with the contemplative life of Benedictine monks. Since I am also a recovering savior complex, spend a lot of time with a certain 3 year old, and also yearn to pray more, this book was excellent. Slow, simple, and it made me realize how much space there already was for contemplation in my life.


Watching Cat Vines

Vine is very newfangled to me. But watching 6 second loops of cats being cute/ridiculous/funny is seriously soothing to my soul.


Eating Sugar Cereal

Having a bad week? Buy a $3 box of sugar cereal (preferably: Lucky Charms) and pour yourself a tall bowl. Aaaah.


Throwing Class Parties

As a teacher of adults, it really is my prerogative when it comes to throwing class parties. Sometimes the complexity of it overwhelms me: perhaps not everyone can afford to bring food, what if nobody shows up, how do we communicate (remember I teach level 0 pre-literacy). But I am leaning into this commitment to celebration thing we have going on in our order. This week we had a class party and it was so smashingly fantastic. I had SO much pasta and so many sambusas. East African food FTW!



If you have never had one, you are missing out. Like the Indian Samosa, but filled with ground beef and onions and occasionally peppers. The best East African snack/street food EVER.


Brooklyn 99

Oh my gosh this is our new favorite show. So funny, the characters are so endearing, Andy Samberg and his big goofy smile just win you over. It is not a cop show at all. It is a show about a bunch of dorky people doing what they love. This show makes me sad for other shows.


Applying/Pitching for Scary Things

Grants. Week-long retreats. An article at a place you have never written. For me and my writing, if I don’t push myself, I tend not to produce. And for every 99 rejections, there seems to be 1 acceptance! Yay!


Reading YA during Spring Break

I am officially on spring break. While I have a few deadlines to make (plus, I crammed in a ton of socializing time in like I do), I am determined to make it somewhat feel like a reprieve. Enter the Young Adult literature.. I have gotten all of John Green and Rainbow Rowell’s entire oeuvre’s on hold for me at the library. Remember when life was simple but felt really complicated? When you fell in love with the first boy you kissed? When you were s emotional and sure that nobody felt like you, until the one day you realized how beautiful the world was and everyone in it? Yeah, that’s like my norm. So YA just feels right.


Listening to Built to Spill While the Snow Thaws

It just feels right.



You will be hearing more about this book from me at some point in the near future. Chimamanda Ngoze Adichie writes in a way that is lulling and piercing. Her descriptions of immigrant life in America resonated so deeply with me I was almost embarrassed. Her words on racism in America have not left my mind. It’s not ok, the author is telling us, over and over again. Cruelty is never ok. You don’t get to gloss over that fact, ever.


Figuring out your Rule of Life

Pope John Paul the II had one. So did MLK.  So do all the Benedictine  monks. Basically, pick a few spiritual disciplines and incorporate them into your life.  I personally like to crib from Dorothy Day (a personal hero of mine): find the face of Christ in the poor every day, and journal journal journal.


Ditching Netflix/Hulu plus for Amazon prime

Guys. Amazon Prime is amazing. Quit your Netflix and your Hulu and instead get free 2 day shipping and access to shows like Veronica MarsPushing DaisiesZach Stone is Gonna Be Famous, and the Pride and Prejudice that has Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy. Yes. If you divide the cost of Prime over 12 months, it’s like $6 a month or something. Caveat: Amazon is also not the best thing ever. Support local and all that. Make your own instead of consumption. Yeah. But I have ordered a few killer Doctor Who mugs and some organic fair trade coffee at some sweet deals. Just don’t go all crazy!


Read Genesis Again

I am in a Bible study with a neighbor and we are going through the Women of the Bible–starting in Genesis. Pretty bleak stuff, ammiright? Except there are so many stories of God hearing/seeing the oppressed. The stories of the Hagars, the Leahs. They just make me want to cry. I am also left with the unshakeable belief that God uses the most crazy miserable mess-ups to bring about his kingdom. I don’t get it at all, but it makes me feel a bit more hopeful about myself.


About Time

This movie came out last year and went under my radar. It is delightful–time travel, stiff upper lip British people, Bill Nighy!, that guy who played Bill Weasely . . . don’t be freaked out by the fact that there is a soft-focus Rachel McAdams on the cover. This is not the Notebook. It is very sweet and poignant and witty and just a really great movie (by the same people who brought you Love Actually). There is a phrase on love and death that will never leave me mind. But I won’t tell you. You will have to watch it for yourself.




So that’s what I am recommending these days. Hit me up with whatever you have got!













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Worlds within Worlds

Yesterday morning, we woke up to the most snow my child has ever seen. Nearly record-breaking, we went from brown earth to mountains of white in one glorious day. We suited up as best as we could and went out to play, the novelty still strong, the snow tasting cold and sharp, our hands stinging, our noses red.

The husband, as a part of our caretaking duties, shoveled and snowplowed and chip chip chipped away at ice for hours and hours. Our neighbors sat on the stoop and gave him advice, lent him ear muffs, shook their heads in sympathy. I engaged in a flurry of domestic activity, baking and cooking and organizing and crafting, taking frequent breaks to gaze out at the snow in rapture. We took more walks outside, happy for the first 15 minutes, then dissolving into shivers (me) and tears (the child). Our Oregon bones do not know what to do with this ten-degrees business.

We looked around at the white piled high, on trees and historic houses and run-down low-income apartments alike, and we thought: where are we?


Yesterday afternoon I met a friend at her auntie’s shop in a nearby Somali mall. The husband drove like a little old lady a mile or two through many grand-looking homes, covered in snow with Christmas wreaths on their doors. We came to the street where cars were parked almost on top of each other, people laughing and spilling into the street, shops selling mobile phones and bracelets and dresses and head scarves. The husband went to the coffee shop and drank orange fanta and ate sambusa, watching the soccer game on TV. The child and I wandered the stalls (hundreds, it seemed, all selling the same items, crammed in one next to each other in a meandering, indoor strip mall). We found my friend, and we sat in her stall on folding chairs, chatting about life and the world for an hour.

I drank chai with so much sugar my teeth hurt; the child sucked on a grape-flavored juice box. We talked about Somalia, English class, Norway, wealth inequality, where the desire for justice comes from. We sat, huddled together in the tiny stall, surrounded by blankets and skirts and tea sets and henna dye, a small heater blasting on us. And then we got down to business and I got most of my Christmas shopping done, with my new friend.

We eventually left the maze, warm and smelling faintly of sandalwood and ginger, heading out into the winter world outside. And we blinked, shielding our eyes from the glare, seeing the skyscrapers of downtown rising high just a mile away. As we trudged back to our car, walking through 16 inches of snow, I felt giddy, I felt confused. Where are we, again?

I can’t believe we live here, I told my husband.

He looked at me, looked at our surroundings.

I know, he said.

And he smiled.

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