Saturday, October 31, 2009

Obstinance - poem (final edit?)

Most of the people I know don't really like poetry.
So many Christians disapprove of my tattoos.
Many members of society are too old to believe in the change I see
And won’t really listen to mine and the other views of youth.
My white friends don’t understand how my Black is beautiful.
My Black friends don’t know why I refuse to see color.

So I find myself always trying to defend my way of life
Always trying to define it so that when they ask I have an answer
Always trying to prove that I’m not just following whims
I’m making conscious decisions.

I am not a rebel just for obstinance’s sake.
I have to stay outside the box in order to stay in the game.
Everyday I need to push a new limit
Start a new project and find a way to finish it.
Because when I’m playing by your rules and living your decrees
I feel like my soul is seeping out of me.
And what, like you said, does it profit me
To gain the whole world, or your blessing,
If I forfeit my soul in the gaining?

I don’t get tattoos to mark my body for the dead
I do it because sometimes there’s an image
that expresses more than I could have said
Sometimes I need you see without me opening my mouth
Sometimes I need to know that if I lose my voice,
My skin will still speak out.

I don’t curse just to make you angry
Sometimes I have to throw in a profanity
Because if I keep my tone neutral and words rated G
The bangers can’t hear me because I’m not speaking their language
A poem is a picture and sometimes we use expletives to frame it.

I don’t argue with you about religion just to see what you’ll say
I really believe there’s more than one entity that saves.
Even Jesus didn’t speak to everyone alike
So I think maybe with all our new technology,
God’s portfolio has diversified

I don’t argue with you because I think your views invalid
I just want to make sure you can fight for how you live
If I can change your mind,
It means you weren't really that convinced
So make sure you know who you are before you step to this.
I do it to the best of my ability.
I wouldn’t call it obstinance; it’s grit
I love you for caring,
But this is me…and you're just going to have to accept it.

Off the dome, untitled, unedited

These are not just eyes, they're windows to my mind, my heart, my soul
They are portals to the future from the past
and from the future back to now
Don't ask silly questions
There's no way I can explain how
All I know is that these are not just hands,
they're hugs, they're warmth, they're strength
These are love and protection, my grace
It's nice that I can use them to cover my face
But this isn't just a face
it's a mask,
it's not just a mask; it's a shield
it shields my inside, my spirit, from the outside world
it shields the thing that's fragile enough to float on fairy's wings
It shields from your scathing glare
from the world out there that doesn't understand it
These are not just feet
They are cars
They're the gospel of peace
they're the impetus to actually accomplish something
They're the vessel that my body uses to take it to bigger and better things
This is not just a tongue
not just a mouth used to smile at everyone
Not just words I used to strum the guitar strings of the Universe
This is the beginning, it's the ending
it's everything in between
It's the day in and the day out
the realization of my dreams
or the hinderance of them
This thing you call a voice is the greatest gift human beings have ever been given
it's the choice to believe in the things these timeless portals we call eyes have seen

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The goal is for the next several posts to have to do with the interesting things I find during my research.

Adolescent Psychology abstract DONE!
Healthy Life Skills Literature Review
Research paper for Women's Autobiography
Literary Analysis for Ethnic American Literature
Healthy Life Skills Behavior Modification Project

those things are on tops of the regular reading assignments I have to do...

I posted once about a class-related topic, although it wasn't research paper-related. I think it still shows that I'm being academic and paying attention.

So be ready for nerdy, smart people stuff

Excuse me for a moment while I organize my thoughts on life

I was in Ethnic American Literature today, after reading Philip Roth’s “Defender of the Faith” (and taking exuberant notes). I was vaguely aware of my smolderingly hot professor just over my right shoulder, but much more aware of the pure pieces of heaven coming at me through a teaching video on the projector.  The video discussed Roth, along with Ralph Ellison and N. Scott Momaday, and their views of Americanism and literature.  The initial part I loved was the discussion of the literary tactics each author chose to use in concurrence with this theme.  But then one of the main critics, Pancho Savery, turned literature into politics and my mind and attention became fully erect.  I adore the interconnectivity of arts and culture. Art imitates life.

That situation has occurred several times in that particular class. Props to my hot professor. Lol.
And when it happens, after my artistic appetite is whetted, my intellectual appetite is reminded of its shortcomings. I want to go to the Writers Workshop at the University of Iowa. But I am not scholarly enough to focus long enough to write well enough to get in. I want to study literature on a deeper level – maybe graduate school – but I am not disciplined enough to finish my readings.
My mind is always hungry for more knowledge and yet I lack follow-through. So am I scholarly?

In 20th Century American Women’s Autobiography we talk about ideologies. Kim Chernin’s mother Rose defines herself as a Communist organizer. Our professor posed the question: Can we define ourselves by our ideologies? The conclusion we came to is that ideals are popularized by people, but a person with no life, with no humanistic traits, only their ideals, is not one after whom people would model. So we cannot define ourselves by our ideals, we must define ourselves by our realities.

My ideal is intellectualism at the point where it intersects art, more specifically Socratic intellectualism: learning through rhetoric (reading, writing, debate).  But my reality is a busy schedule, diversified interests, and middle socioeconomic status. So I cannot, as the Wellesley girls say, “dedicate my life to knowledge.”

I guess, based on the point made in my class today and based on what Marsha (my former academic advisor) has said to me, the point is: I must live my life. I must live through the shifts at Chili’s and the long drives back and forth to Edmond. I must live through multitasking and split-attentiveness. I must live through these realities in order to be who I am.

And to flip that on its ear, regardless of what my ideologies are, I must live my life in order to be who I want to be.
Because deep down I know that who I want to be and who I am are the same person.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Trying out a short story

I haven't done hardly any work on the project I mentioned in my last post. Fail.

But here's a little something that just came to me...

    She's been this way as long as I can remember. 
    When I was about three I noticed it for the first time. I was supposed to be asleep but I woke up because I wanted Mama to rub my back some more.  I climbed out of my crib and followed the sound of Sugarland to my parents' room. Daddy is policeman and he worked at night so he wasn't there. I thought I'd crawl in bed next to Mama but she wasn't there either.  I saw a light from a crack in the bathroom door. I had a baby brother so I knew to be quiet at night. I tiptoed over to the door and looked in. Mama was in the bathtub, surrounded by bubbles that smelled like the vanilla cupcakes she made me on Sundays. She had a funny-shaped glass in her hand and she was staring blankly at the wall. She looked strange compared to her usual smiling, talking, playful self. I sat down on the floor, with my head against the doorjamb and watched her do nothing until I fell asleep. I vaguely remember being carried back to my crib later on.
     Shortly after I turned five and my brother was two, I learned that being a police officer is a dangerous job and I became incessantly worried about my father's safety. One day, I decided to talk to him about it.
     It was breakfast time and Daddy was reading the morning paper. I got down out of my chair and walked around the table to climb into his lap. 
    "Daddy, are you scared?" I asked.
    "Scared of what?" He asked looking right at me and bouncing his knee.
    "The bad guys."
    "You mean the ones I have to deal with at work?" When I nodded solemnly, he rubbed my hair out of my eyes. "Sometimes I think about the bad things that could happen, but then I think about you and your brother and your mama and I remember to be brave. I've got to be brave so I can outsmart the bad guys and keep you guys and everybody else's family safe. Being brave is more important than being scared."
    "Who keeps you safe?" I wanted to know.
    "My partner, my bulletproof vest, my gun, my fast car, and God."
     I thought about this while I ate a piece of toast. "What happens if you're trying to catch a bad guy while we're at home sleeping and something bad happens? How will we know you need help?"
    "I tell you what: I'm going to give you a big-girl responsibility. You know how to answer the phone, right? Well I'm gonna teach you how to call my cell phone."
     He set me on the edge of the table and went to get his cell phone and the cordless phone for the house. "You know all your numbers, right?" He asked teasingly. Then my dad taught me how to turn the phone on, listen for a dial tone, punch in his ten-digit cell phone number and wait for an answer. We practiced three times and then he taped the number to the table in the hallway where I could see it.
    "You can call me one time a night if you need to talk to me. If I don't answer it means I'm busy with work and I'll call you back if I have time. But make sure you ask your mama for help first, okay?"
     I told him I understood and then gave him a big hug.
    "You probably shouldn't call him every night, pumpkin, unless something is really wrong," Mama brushed some crumbs off of my face and then kissed my forehead.
     Two weeks later, I got up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. I looked into my parents' room and noticed that Mama wasn't in her bed. I had seen this at least a dozen times since I was three, so I knew she was taking a bath. I went and looked to make sure and then went to get the phone. I didn't worry about being heard because the music was on and the phone was downstairs. I dialed Daddy's number and hoped that he would answer. He did, on the second ring.
    "Daddy, it's Des."
    "Desiree, why are you awake?" He asked gently.
    "I had to go to the bathroom. Mama's sad."
    "What do you mean, sugar? Isn't she asleep?"
    "No. She's in the bathtub staring at the wall and drinking out of a grown-up glass."
    Daddy sighed. "She's okay. Go back to bed and we'll talk about this tomorrow."
    "Daddy, she's sad."
    "I know, baby, but don't go in there unless you need something or if your brother cries. Just go back to sleep. Do you hear?" His voice wasn't harsh, but I knew not to argue.
    "Thanks for calling, Des. I love you. I'll take care of Mama when I get home."
    "I love you too." I hung up the phone and went back upstairs.
     Daddy and I didn't talk about it the next morning. Mama woke me up with her usual cheerful song and dance.  She made us pancakes and smiled a lot. She and Daddy kissed twice and they looked so happy, I forgot to say anything.

In my head there is more of this, but I should go to sleep.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Truest Statement

A few hours ago, I accidentally made the truest statement of my life.

Several people asked me how I'm liking UCO. And I kept making jokes about missing OCU's glitz and glamour and prettiness. And then finally, I was talking to Miller Tai and I said,

"It's hard, because most people - not everyone obviously, but a lot of us - get to a point when it's time to stop performing, time to stop putting on a show, and start being a big kid. Now's my time. And it sucks, because I miss the show, but that's life. And that's okay."

The problem is: I'm not really sure if it is okay.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

117,840 minutes

"525,600 minutes
525,600 moments so dear
how do you measure a year?

in daylights
in sunsets
in midnights
in cups coffee 
in inches 
in miles
in laughter
in strife

525,600 minutes
how do yo measure a year in the life?

measure in love
seasons of love

in truths that she learned
in times that he cried
in bridges he burned
in the way that she died

remember the love

in diapers, report cards
in spoked wheels 
in speeding tickets
in contracts, dollars,
in funerals 
in births

how do you figure a last year on earth?"
-"Seasons of Love" from the musical RENT

A few people I know are in the local production of RENT during the month of October.

The girl playing Mimi is a friend of mine. She is Mimi in RENT now. She was in Beauty and the Beast last October.  She was Ariel in Footloose last summer. She was in A Christmas Carol last winter.  And when she's not rehearsing or performing for a show, she's studying because she's in college. We don't have time to hang because she and I are both very busy. I was thinking about her earlier today. She is incredibly talented. She has a voice that makes me want to cry, it's so pure and beautiful. She can dance. She's a great actor. She is beautiful.

"Show weekend" is coming up this week. My group of friends centers our get-togethers on holidays, OCU dance recitals, and "Mimi"'s shows.  My best friend comes from Kansas, our friend comes from Louisiana, and about ten of us get dressed up and go to eat and to the theater.  It's our little bit of glamour. We're lucky. Thank God for OCU.

This is a photo of our group at Beauty and the Beast in April.

Yesterday and today I was listening to RENT, the film soundtrack. I am so excited about the show. I'm excited to see my friends. I'm excited about "show weekend." I'm excited that Frank is going with us this time.
I'm also disappointed in myself for not being as driven as "Mimi" (who has learned to live on very little food because neither her schedule nor her career are very conducive to large or good-tasting meals), or Kait (a dance performance major with arthritis who ALWAYS dances through the pain), or Jen (who has worked two jobs for three years along with school and dance).  They have always paid the price of fame. I never have.

All I have to do for my art is write, edit, memorize, and perform but most days I don't make the time to put pen to paper.  And if I do get something written, I don't get it edited. If it gets edited, it rarely gets memorized.  I've only performed twice since school started. I need to step up to the plate.  As John Legend sang, "the future started yesterday and we're already late."

Don't get me wrong. I work hard. I just feel like a lot of my hard work is arbitrary. Working at Chili's feels EXTREMELY arbitrary.
But here's how I measure my life:
in prayers
in hours worked
in dollars
in tanks of gas
in car accidents

in text messages
in text books
in energy drinks
in sicknesses
in pounds I haven't lost

So I am bound and determined to make more opportunities to take pictures, to spend more time with friends, to workout more, and to perform more.
I want the next 117,840 minutes to be a bit lovelier so that when I write my new year's blog I can be happy with how I wrapped it up.

This is us before RENT last weekend.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Well, it's not particularly surprising that I'm not doing awesome in my classes. I'm not failing anything, I don't think, but I definitely don't have a 4.0.  My midterm grades are ALWAYS like this. It's like I need to settle into my classes for half the semester before I really understand how to flourish. I always pull it out in the end, and I'm not worried about this semester.  I just feel kind of bad because I have always wished I could just do things right from the beginning, instead of over-correcting problems.

I'm going through a spiritual revolution right now along with everything else. It's not particularly fun, but I guess it's necessary. Lord help me, is all I can say about that.

Poetry is getting big in my life again, but instead of detailing the hows, I think I'm gonna quit this and read some more of The Rest of the Gospel before I go to sleep.

Until next time.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Past Inspirations

"Spot-training doesn't work, so spot-fixing-your-life won't either." - BFF Jen

I have to balance it out, do a little bit of everything here and there, rather than a whole lot of one thing in the place of something else.
Ex: I can't go to poetry spots twice a week and skip workouts. I can't workout everyday and skip prayer/Bible study. I can't go to 3 or 4 church services in a week and then not do my homework. What I did on Thursday worked really well, I went to early prayer at 6, the gym with a book (for class) at 7:15, school, and then Wordpulp that night. I was really tired, but I felt like I was in the right place.  That was balance.

I really decided to blog because I was reading through my journal and found some interesting things.
On Oct. 6, 2008 (almost exactly one year ago), I wrote this:
"[I've been] needing to spend more time seeking God and doing my work and less time at Galileo or on the phone....It is so easy to let people replace God. Just because the sidewalk outside Galileo is holy doesn't mean we can leave God out of the equation. Just because each of us has glimpses of the prophetic doesn't mean God won't snatch that inspiration right back if we refuse to give credit where it's due - to God. Just because God has given us minds that can relate to all things mystical doesn't give us the right to mysticize what we know is concrete - God. We, as poets, are entrusted with a great gift and a lot of freedom. We need to be careful with all of it."
So true.  I think poets (all writers - maybe even all artists) fall right under pastors and teachers in the spiritual influence hierarchy. "With great power comes great responsibility."