Thursday, December 10, 2009

I'm Spineless (1)

My roommates are giggling as they look up palm reading on the glowing Apple notebook. We’re all excited for the party we’re throwing that night. It’s become an annual event with my one roommate and myself. We’ve been preparing all day; searching out D.I. costumes, fun foods, and all the right ghostly trimmings that are required for a memorable Halloween party. I put down the polyester cobwebs and plop in between the two sitting on the sofa and offer my left hand.

“Tell me my future, Madam Drusilla.” I say in a mock awestruck voice. We take this thing very seriously.

Kjirstin grasps my hand and leans over it. She begins her newly learned mysticism in a thick accent. “You vill meet a maun.” She says slowly and mysteriously. We all burst into laughter. “Okay, okay! It says the shape of your palm means you do things quietly and intuitively. You have shallow lines which means…” She turns away and scrolls up on the web page. “Shallow lines mean you are easily manipulated by others.”

We continued looking at each other’s palms and making up fake fortunes since none of us really believed in it. Though, even days after, I would look at my palm when my mind wandered in class or at church, or when I was just taking a moment to myself. I would trace those lines with my fingertips and will them to be deeper.

I grew up having a close relationship with my brother. Being barely two years younger than him I always sought his attentions. Everything he did was cool and exciting. It wasn’t uncommon to be pulled away from my recreation by him to listen to his ideas, to a story that he came up with that went along perfectly with about thirty different popular songs at the time; each one having to be listened to in order and with lengthy explanations to follow and precede each.

When I was beginning to pick something in my life to write about for a personal essay I continued to be influenced by this idea of my feeling manipulated by those around me. My third draft I began listing off experiences with people where I’ve felt manipulated. Of course, there was my brother; my friend Deb, she was a professional, had her own apartment, her own car… and she took it upon herself to help me find a wardrobe that wasn’t combat boots and hippie skirts. I thought about my parents and how they would remember details about my childhood and I’d play into those memories.

I thought of past relationships, how I would tire of trying to become what I thought they wanted in a girlfriend. How around my roommates I listen to the kind of music they listen to and forget about my favorite artists because I know they don’t appreciate that.

As I’m writing this draft I look back trying to discover why I was allowing myself to be treated like this I didn’t see any manipulation coming from these people. I wasn’t being manipulated into altering my musical tastes. I was listening to their music because I wanted to have something in common with them. I realized that the feeling of manipulation was coming just from myself. I was manipulating myself into thinking that if I changed, or did what I thought they wanted me to do, I would be accepted by them. I’m seeking their approval.

Even with this paper. Through five drafts and three different topics I know I was just trying to write something that would impress the other people who would read it. I’ve sat in seminar and listened to the honesty that fills Brit’s writing as she opens her relationship with her father out in front of everyone. I’ve sat there while Matty got up and bore his soul. As I went through sessions I would take input and opinion and write it as fact. This is what they want; betrayal, disappointed expectations. If this is what I write, I can become their equal.

Now as I look at the lines on my palm I wonder what decisions I made to make others happy. I consider every little moment in my life that could possibly have been affected by this. I didn’t even know about BYU-Idaho until I met Deb and heard her stories of the two semesters she spent here. I never would have met my boss, Sister Morgan, without knowing Ivor who used to work where I do now. It scares me, this need to please those around me. What else in my life will it affect if I don’t find a way to please myself?

Friday, December 4, 2009

I sense a trend

I'm spineless. And I do this to myself every time. I take criticism and, though I try to let it roll off my back, I grasp it, file it, catalog it, write a summary and take that off-handed comment and try to fit myself within the mold that others have created for me.
Even with this paper. Through five drafts and three different topics I know I was just trying to write something that would impress the other people with whom I work. I would take their input and their opinion of how I felt on a subject and write it as fact. This is what they want. This is how I can become their equal.
Defending myself against a loved one, telling him that I am not worried about pleasing him at this point in my life helped me to realize that now -- more than ever -- when I write this... I am writing it for me.

Friday, November 13, 2009

A thought

My roommates are giggling as they look up palm reading on the glowing Apple notebook. We’ve been preparing all day for the party. Searching out D.I. costumes, fun foods, and all the right ghostly trimmings that are required for a memorable Halloween party. I put down the polyester cobwebs and plop in between the two and offer my left hand.

“Tell me my future, Madam Drusilla.” I say in a mock awestruck voice and laughter escapes the three of us.

Kjirstin grasps my hand and leans over it. She begins her newly learned mysticism in her best imitation of a Transylvanian accent. “You vill meet a maun.” More giggles. “Okay, okay! It says the shape of your palm means you do things quietly and intuitively. You have shallow lines which means…” She turns away and scrolls up on the webpage. “You are manipulated by others.”

We continued looking at each other’s palms and making up fake fortunes since none of us really believed in it. Though, even days after, I would look at my palm when my mind wandered in class or at church, or when I was just taking a moment to myself. I would trace those lines with my fingertips and will them to be deeper.

Friday, October 30, 2009

I have nothing to say

I sit at work, just out of sight of the desk. No one is around this row of computers. The thinly veiled florescent bulbs hang heavy above my head; the artificial light raining down on everything in sight. I pull open a blank blog post. Close it. Open it. Write a word, a phrase, a paragraph. Delete it. I have nothing to say. I smell the harsh hand sanitizer that reminds me of the alcohol wipes used at hospitals to disinfect the flesh before the nurse pierces it with a cold needle. My stomach growls, and my feet are over warm in my furry winter boots. One minute to go. I've wasted an hour trying to get motivated for homework. This isn't boding well for the weekend.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

My Day 10/23/09 pt. 1

This morning, as usual, my alarm rang it's soft little tune next to my head at 7:00am. Waking up, I silenced the alarm and stretched, enjoying what I imagined to be the last moments I had with the cool pillow beneath my cheek and the cozy flannel tight around my body... As I was about to yawn for the first time and propped my arm behind me to start the "getting up" process I heard it. A soft squeal of metal grinding against metal, and water rushing through pipes to splash against a porcelain tub in an echoing room. Defeated I let myself fall back against the hard mattress, kick my feet against the restraints of the suffocating blanket. Grr... Another 20 minutes of not being able to get anything done. I can't start my day without a shower! I turn to my alarm, and set it for 7:20 and rearrange myself, trying to recapture the comfort of a deep sleep.

I hear a blow dryer. A high pitched whir. The light pierces through the cracks in the door, obliterating the peaceful morning light that had so soothingly filled the room what seemed like moments earlier. I reach along the cool sheet to find the hard plastic of my alarm. Nothing. My hand continues to search, independent of my body or senses, for the phone. It slips under my pillow, further under my pillow. Oh, there it is. I look at the time, the bright light annoyingly chipper. My eyes won't focus. It looks like it says 8:40am... not 7:17am... wait. No. AGH! 8:40?! Without a second thought I propel myself out of my bed, and open the door to the harsh accosting light of the vanity. I automatically turn the sharp right to the bathroom. There it is. The culprit. How dare you? I have things to do today, too. The giant blonde says something "Goodmorning" maybe? I grumble an acknowledgement that might not even be actual words and turn away. I'm homeless... what is it that I should do first? Twenty minutes? Agh. I move through the living room that is a silent tomb to the roommate passed out on the couch. I glare. How can you not have a class? I step, barefoot, on the tiled kitchen floor, it's cool... and I feel crumbs under my feet. Of course. I open the refrigerator... nothing inside belongs to me... I shut it and turn in aimless circles. I look at the oven, 8:42, the microwave, 8:43. I walk back through the tomb, a clock reads 8:40. I make my way to the bathroom. The mammoth is still blocking me and relief.
"Kjirstin, I need to use the bathroom real quick." I use the proper name for this monstrosity; hating that I can't just push it out of the way, out of the bathroom, out of the apartment, out of my life.
"Yeah, sure, babe." It says in it's perky blonde voice. It turns off the hair dryer and moves as though to continue to use it plugged in through the bathroom door. I pull the black box from the wall.
"It came unplugged."
"Oh, okay, that's fine I'll just..." I shut the door. "use it out here."

Moments later, I've regrouped. I can do this. I tie my hair back in a semblance of respectability. A difficult task when I haven't showered yet that morning. I open the door. The Hun stands between me and my goal... clean teeth... As a matter of fact, the giant stands blocking like a lineman both of the vanity sinks, the drawer holding my make-up and face wash, and the toothpaste. I figure to avoid a long drawn out battle with the barbarian I'd be better off quietly finding my supplies without addressing this foreign Godzilla.
It says "excuse me."
I grunt.
Feeling more like a human with my warpaint, I walk through the living room. The corpse lays motionless. I forage for food and settle on apple butter toast and milk. Hey, the bread is mine, and the milk is fair game. The few moments I take in eating my breakfast does much for my damaged morning. I look at the clock. 8:55. I quickly move through the living room. I turn to go through the vanity. Again! Another clever assault as the viking is hunched in a crouching position ready to pounce directly in front of my bedroom door.
"Excuse me." I mumble as I squeeze through the narrow opening.
"Sorry." I shut the door.

In seconds I am properly outfitted to face the onslaught of danger. Backpack slung across my shoulders I open the door. This time the brutish beast is caught unawares and cannot thwart my escape. I slip into enemy territory, and discover a knight-ess in shining armor asleep in bed. I whisper.
"Dear, I'm going to be late for class. Can I get a ride?"
Moments later, on the trusty white steed we depart. I've successfully beaten my first foe of the day.

To be continued...

Monday, September 28, 2009

A new friend will change an old routine...

I've never been the sort to put much stock in fortunes, horoscopes, or wishes at 12:34 (whether it's a.m. or p.m.). This notwithstanding, when I get Chinese take-out I almost always save that slip of paper. On one particular occasion, I cracked open the cookie to find a fortune that read "A new friend will change an old routine." I thought: "Sweet." And even though I don't believe in fortune telling, I kept my eyes open for when my "old" routine would be changed. On days like today, I begin to feel impatient -- I've overslept, spent a majority of the day in pajamas, watched youtube videos and no new friend came along to change this "old" routine. Obviously, such a day could only lead to some serious self-reflection and during some deep soul searching the fortune "A new friend will change an old routine" came to mind. I don't remember when I got this particular fortune, and although I save all these potentially profound slips of paper, I have no idea where it is at this point. Yet, in any case, it came to mind. I reflected on new friends I had gained in the past year and one particular instant when during the seven-week break from school I was introduced to a new friend, without whom I would not have been hired at the Writing Center, which opened up my social field to include some really great people and made me feel once again that writing out my own thoughts and ideals can be fun and rewarding without the pressure of getting that all hallowed letter grade. So today, while I wait for this elusive new friend to break up my routine, I write for me.

Monday, July 13, 2009

summer in the city

Just a few pictures taken with my cell phone that represents summer thus far.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

In honor of Beat month

104th chorus

I'd rather be thin than famous,
I dont wanta be fat,
And a woman throws me outa bed
Callin me Gordo, & everytime
I bend
to pickup
my suspenders
from the davenport
floor I explode
loud huge grunt-o
and disgust
every one
in the familio

I'd rather be thin than famous
But I'm fat

Paste that in yr. Broadway Show


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

My life is written...

Some thoughts on the books I've read recently...

First off, Siddhartha. I'm the sort of person where if I am recommended one great book by someone I hound you until I get more. Thanks to a particular roommate I've read "On the Road" by Jack Kerouac (a new favorite author) and of course "The Perks of Being a Wallflower." So when she brought up Siddhartha, I didn't question, I bought the first copy I could find. A book that captured my full attention -- I found myself immersed in a culture, and landscape that I had never visited before and drank in every word. Unlike another, more contemporary, novel I've recently read that felt more like a poorly camouflaged self-help book, the events and scenes of Hermann Hesse's work allowed my own mind to form individual conclusions and discover something great on my own, without feeling as though I were being preached to.

Orwell's 1984. The night after I began reading 1984 I had a very bad dream. I was a Jew, having dinner as a guest of Hitler. I've never woken up so stressed out. A great novel that was very affecting and interesting in that it was written something like 65 years ago and is still very relevant today. I must admit it was a pretty depressing novel, the whole idea of 'newspeak' was torture for an English Literature major to deal with.

My nephew's 15th birthday is tomorrow. He's a giant, almost 6 feet if not already. He's not big into reading but he should be. So I bought him a book. Sherman Alexie's novel "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian." Hey, at least I didn't buy him socks. Of course, I had to read it for myself first. The story of a struggling young man trying to find a place that he can be a part of in this world, spoken from the boy's own perspective using his language and his artwork to express himself. I laughed and cried the entire way through this novel, it's a very good piece of literature. I'm pretty sure that it has been banned or challenged somewhere by now, as most great novels have. After reading it, I think it is the perfect gift I could give my nephew at this time. Junior talks directly to his audience, he doesn't talk down to them, he doesn't gloss over his life, or try to make things any prettier than they are in their true complexity -- something I think a reader struggling to be interested in reading and struggling with his own reality would appreciate.
I'm still reading Anna Karenina. My first time reading a Russian author and I love getting back into the classics. The style of writing is amazing and there's a reason I was obsessed for many years of all things in the classic literary canon. The genius Tolstoy has for "sketching the subtlest human gestures" is breathtaking and I can't get enough. The copy I have is something I found on one of the many bookshelfs in my parent's home. The binding has a slight crack in the middle and there's my mom's name on the inside cover and the date '92 written underneath. I was five. I know my mom went to the store shopped around, picked up this novel that she had read a year or so previously, opened the book to the approximate middle (creasing the binding) and inhaled the "new book scent." She never read this copy.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A few projects

recent reads...

recent renderings...

Monday, January 19, 2009

Christmas Presents

My parents got me painting supplies for Christmas, here's my workings!

"Still Life"

"Open Hearted"

My dad's still life... and a bag of mom's sugar cookies.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Upon returning...

I've been putting off writing a new blog for the reason that, due to complete coincidence, I only posted once a month since starting. Well, if I end up posting more than once this month I'll just have to suck up my own OCD tendencies.

Since coming home to PA my mind has been a jumble of thoughts, and I've had the craving to express them and also simply to express myself as an individual. The quantity of thoughts and ideas and the urgent desire for expression has caused a mental traffic jam where barely anything has had the opportunity to break free. My purpose for this blog is just for my own outlet of expression, and those who are interested can tune in, and those who aren't interested can ignore it. I'm not looking for outside accolades.

Recent reads include

Both of these tales highlight the lives and experiences of unremarkable individuals and their common struggle against situations beyond their control. Now, I've been an avid reader since a fairly young age. As I've grown and my taste in the written word has shifted I've discovered many different aspects that make reading so enjoyable. What I've recently discovered over the past year is that when you read frequently, you can begin to see connections between the books you choose without realising it. Now these two books (and throw in The Perks of Being a Wallflower), they each are about young boys struggling through their lives and their own human experiences. The fascinating thing is that these boys (fictional and real) are from three different countries.
The Kite Runner focuses on Amir from Afghanistan. Growing up Amir deals with the struggle of getting his father's love and approval, he struggles to deal with his bestfriend being of a lower caste than him and the prejudice that both experience because of this, Amir then struggles through the effects of war and dealing with regret in his later life.
A Long Way Gone is the memoir of Ishmael Beah. Growing up in Sierra Leone, Ishmael's family was abruptly severed by the cruel war that raged through his country. He ran from the war as long as he could until he was swept up in the army and was conditioned to kill and pillage villages as a young boy. Finally Ishmael is given the opportunity to free himself from the violence and drugs, however it is not an easy journey, and he has to struggle to avoid being swept up with the violence that refuses to release his homeland.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Charlie grows up in the Pittsburgh, PA area. He deals with his childhood bestfriend's suicide, and being the victim of sexual abuse. Dealing with his own peers and the pressures of highschool.
These books have greatly contributed to the theme of "The Human Condition" in my thoughts. They are all about the lives of young boys around the same age, experiencing their own tragedies and world-changing situations, their own struggle to rise above, in three vastly different areas of the world.

Words and phrases like the human experience, the human condition, existentialism, transcendentalism are all difficult ideas for me to grasp. Like trying to grasp campfire smoke in my hand. I can tell I tried because the smokey scent is there, but there is no tangible substance left behind once I open my fist... anyway, Jefferey Brodd lists three paradoxes of the human condition:

  1. Our imaginations can take us anywhere, but our physical bodies can't.
  2. We are capable of the kindest, most noble things, but we are also capable of the most horrible and terrifying things.
  3. Humans hope for everlasting life, but are always inventing new ways to destroy each other

I related these things to the idea of a Natural Man, something bringing us down and that keeps us from obtaining what we want most. Personally, I struggle with waking up early. I like my sleep and find that sleep comes easiest in the late morning. My struggle with the natural man is making the goal to wake up at a reasonable hour and then when my alarm goes off, consciously turning it off and justifying sleeping another hour or two (or three). To overcome these mediocre trials in my life would be transcending, an emphasis on perfecting oneself. Right? Although, wikipedia (reliable site) says "Transcendentalism transcends imagination over reason, and inuition over fact." Meaning...........? What exactly? Imagination and intuition have greater value than reason and fact? Or is this statement taken out of context and meant to apply to the idea of transcendentalism and religion? That would make sense - although you can make a religious argument based on reason and fact, few will believe without being able to have a prompting of the spirit (some might view this as personal intuition).

What is the point... there is none. I can't reach a conclusion in my mind, I just know that these things are connected. Done rambling... here's some weird pictures I took.