Introduction – California, 2015
It happened slowly, like stormclouds gathering in a clear sky. As if she had looked up one day to thunder while remembering only gentle sunlight.
I’m starting a Tumblr version of this blog where I’ll put up mirror posts of most of the writing/poetry that I post here. If you have a Tumblr and it’s easier for you to follow there, bookmark it!
__End Logistical Interlude__
There once was a young man who lived in a big old house, with a big old bed and large comfy chairs, with a big old library and several old (but not quite so big) servants.
He had two brothers, both of whom ignored him. This suited him just fine. He preferred the solitude of the library, where he could write and write again in peace.
The gardens, too, gave him some comfort. When he was younger he could run and hide in the hedges from his older brothers, who chased him for sport and set the dogs to find him when they grew tired. Other times he would climb the tall trees in the wood bordering the house, and stay up there for hours and hours, until the dappled sunlight had faded from his perch and night had fallen. He would go roaming in the wood for a full day at a time, and return to the big old house for supper to find that his mother and father had barely noticed that he was gone.
The young man developed good night eyes from these adventures, and knew all the twists and turns in the woodland paths that would lose the others. One day, on one of these paths, he came across a boy.
This other looked weathered but not care-worn, thin and strong as a young tree. Yet he did not run as the young man approached him, and they spoke.
“I can teach you how to disappear” the boy said, and the young man believed him.
So every day for a fortnight the young man went to meet the boy in the wood, and every day the boy from the wood taught him something new, and in turn the young man taught the other all that he knew. The wood-boy knew all about what berries were safe, hidden paths in the forest, how to tell direction from the stars and the moon. The young man from the big old house knew how to mend a shirt, how to grow food, and how to understand the people in the house and town. What the young man really longed for, however, was to learn how to disappear. This knowledge was promised to him on the final day of the fortnight.
When the day came, the boy from the woods took the boy from the house deeper into the wood than he had ever gone before, until he came at last to a cave in the wall of a ravine, with a small but fierce river flowing beside it.
“Go into the cave, what you find will inside know the secret to disappearing. Learn with your eyes and your hands.”
So the boy from the house entered the cave. It is not for me to tell you what happened to him there, or what he met with inside. I do not know. In truth, no one could recall seeing the young man who lived in the big old house near the wood.
It is also true that the village folk will sometimes claim to see two small and fluid shadows stealing across the fields at dawn, which vanish into the wood as soon as the sun sails over the mountains.
Author’s Notes: This is actually several years old. I wrote it based on a prompt, I think, although the prompt itself is lost to the ages. I kind of enjoyed mussing about with the really simple, almost story-telling kind of feeling for writing a short “fairy tale.”
Comments (polite, please, I don’t care if they’re kind or not, but always be polite) are welcome.
Poetry is when someone reaches out and plucks a shy emotion from the corner of your mind, giving it a name and rendering it understandable, in two words or less.
Author’s Note: I was going to make this a poem but the formatting and rhythm just felt so wrong. It makes a better ‘short’ I think.
At this stage in my life I am confronted with the options of what I want to do with my time that I find engaging and personally fulfilling. I may think I want to watch the Harry Potter movies end to end, but as soon as I start doing it I get disinterested. Something in me wants engagement, and I can’t quite recall the last time I got to choose what projects interested me in that way — aside from the thesis, that was a bit of a fluke. But until that point everything was ‘you must write these papers and these exams,’ and forced interest because there was not an option to be disinterested/not do it and really get away with it.
Essentially this has turned me back to creative endeavors. I stopped drawing and writing creatively in early high school and junior high because my parents, counselors, and teachers suddenly got very intense about doing very well academically and getting into universities. To be honest I was also overly preoccupied with doing well in school, and didn’t really set aside time to do things for myself. Looking back at this blog, part of the reason I created it in the first place was so that I could have an outlet to write something that was nonacademic, or put up things that only really mattered to me. I realized this gap in my life even at the very beginning of my last year at university, not just in the vacuous amounts of free time I have after graduation.
So I made a list, which reads as follows: write that novel(la), re-teach self how to play the harp, read more for pleasure, write a regular journal. I’m sure I have more on there, I can’t remember them off the top of my head.
I started writing again, because there has been a thousand ideas for a novel knocking about in my head for the past two months, not to mention several accompanying boards on Pinterest, and it was starting to die to be let out. Frankly, its been like rediscovering art but with a little bit more knowledge of editing yourself and creating good work (academic or otherwise). It’s an endeavor. I popped off short little novels and poems when I was younger, but didn’t really put a lot of time or effort into creating good stories or really refining what I wanted to say. Now that I’m paying attention to that sort of thing, I’m realizing very quickly that this is a massive undertaking.
And I am ridiculously excited to be doing it again. I’m serious. When I write creatively, it’s all me up there, that people are seeing and interacting with and having feelings about. If it’s all me, then there’s really no reason to not portray myself and the ideas that I’m trying to communicate in anything less than clarity (or lack of clarity, depending on what kind of mind-games you’re trying to play). Though it makes the outlining and planning and designing these characters and places and situations all that much harder, I’m finding that it’s far more rewarding work. To be perfectly honest it takes as much if not more critical brainpower to write these things as it does to write analytical work in an academic setting. Both are the self-generation and sustaining of a project not just through having an idea but being able to execute it well and to one’s satisfaction.
Even if you don’t mean to, you create yourself. So edit, be clear, and make sure you are saying what you want to say.
ps. there might be more poetry and short stories popping in and out on B&C, heads up
Over the past few days I’ve listened to all manner of people tell me that we are going to be great. Our generation is strong, intellectually sound, and ready to go out and tackle the world’s greatest challenges. We are newly-minted, state-of-the-art young intellectuals and we are guaranteed to blow your mind.
I’m not super sold on this. I agree that we are young and optimistic and strong I our beliefs that we can change the world if we try. But we also have an incredible amount of growing to do. This might just be me thinking from my own experiences and how I feel at the present time. Maybe I’d feel different if I had a job waiting for me.
I said something pretty close to this in one of the highly sappy and eloquent Facebook posts by my other graduating friends. I cannot know where I am going, or who I will be. I do not know who I want to be or even where. All I know is that it is not here, and I am grateful that my university years have been given to putting me on the path to finding out.
Perhaps I won’t change the world. A year ago I was awoken to the possibility that My future is anything but guaranteed. I could be dead on the roadside somewhere in three years, instead of working for the UN. I do not yet see a path.
But I am young. I am strong. I am smart. I can find my way, wherever it goes.
I spent all of last week in New York with a housemate for Spring Break. As a brief summary, I had a fantastic week, but just traveling and having no real job but to experience things and sightsee and take in the world was really relieving and eye-opening.
I love to write (if the blog or the numerous posts up until this point didn’t clue you in already). In junior high, I wrote a short book, published entirely online, and then removed it all a little while later in an interesting teenage attempt to erase myself online. It wasn’t a particularly good book, but it was a story that possessed me and wouldn’t let me go until I’d written in out. I don’t even remember how it ends, or even what happens.
I recently felt another story coming on, like those sneezes that tempt you and then don’t actually manifest. And being in New York gave me a lot of ideas, just because it was a break in the norm — I was away from home and away from the routine of going to my parents’ home on breaks and seeing new things. I started to remember when I was younger, bored with school, and lived to have those new experiences and to condense all the things I loved about the museums and the travel and the stories into narratives of my own.
I tried to puzzle out what happened between then and now, when I’d stopped seeing stories and hearing songs in the small things I met with every day. I put it down to college, basically. But its also a neglect on my part. I feel as if a redirecting of my creative brain away from analytical papers and back to artistic endeavors may be in short order (at least for a little while).
What I’m eventually trying to get at here is it all comes back down to openness. Interruptions, reversals, sudden stops and falls wake us up to where we are and who we are with, and make us listen to the world around us more. For me, that looks like stories, and sometimes pictures that I may or may not draw. It may look different for you, or not.
Seek out the new, or the unseen, even if you don’t like it, experiences are precious.
Identity is a really big thing. And complex. There are probably tens of millions of books and theses and just as many frustrated researchers toiling over and dissecting this topic in all its myriad forms.I understand that however messy the things are, they can be kind of necessary as a way of understanding an individual’s relationship to the rest of the world, their country, their community, or even their family.
Over the past few weeks I’ve found it amazing how identities can come not-so-neatly wrapped; and arrive to you like a gift you’d assumed was meant for someone else but was actually yours all along. After beating this subject over and over again with several friends and acquaintances, I’ve found that they do not always fit the way we think they will. In trying to make sense of who we are, we struggle to define based on an astounding amount of established and understood identities that do not necessarily work.
You’re bisexual, but you lean towards one gender/sex. You hold more than one citizenship but relate better to one or the other. You get anxious when someone asks where you’re from because there are three beloved cities in which you left parts of your childhood and you don’t know which one is really “home.”
This is a rudimentary (and probably ridiculous) distillation, but identity for me is a theory. It’s an outline. The words that people use to describe me (and the words I use to describe myself, for that matter) are expedient. They are the best fit, and they are by no means perfect. The ways in which you deviate and contradict the “theory” are just as relevant, if not more so than the ways in which you follow it.
[I should just retitle this blog as "people are complicated" and just cut right to the chase.]
This is for those moments in your life when you are mysteriously assured that everything is fine. That nothing really matters (in an existential way at least) and things you thought were confusing and incomprehensible suddenly make sense. You may not see the connection, but something is quietly assuring you that they are connected.
This is for when a tiny part of your brain is realizing that those things you did are not completely separate from each other – and that they’re showing you slowly and bit by bit who you are and what you’re doing.
Happy Friday everyone!