Thursday, October 24, 2013

Who Makes These Changes

The title of this blog post is from the title of a poem by Jelaluddin Rumi.

It's difficult to put into words how I feel for my current emotional shock, which was brought on by watching the new documentary by Tom Shadyac called "I Am." It explains and sums up exactly what I feel to be wrong with the world, and suggests the solutions for these ailments to be simple, yet empowering acts. One of the quotes from the film that hit me hardest came from a philosopher. He said, "There's no such thing as a tiny act...It all matters." What a powerful statement in such few words. It really sums up the main theme of the film, which is that we are all connected, and when we can all live our daily lives with that consciousness in mind, that's when we will truly begin to see change in the world.

I've learned that, unlike any other genre in film, I never feel as inspired to write as much as I do after watching documentaries. I'm going to make it a habit to write after watching documentaries in the future (even when they leave me at a loss for words as this beautiful one did).

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

My Greatest Mate

With my trustee bottomless mug of coffee at my right elbow
I read and write and soak up the world through eyes
like two sponges on a newborn baby's face.
I let myself be a product of my environment
until I'm ready to make the change that in turn
alters the environment for someone else.
That will be the day that I will say
I've found the voice I've searched for
so thoroughly beside my greatest mate.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Feeling Put Off By Someone?

Don't worry, they're most likely saying this:

Ego probabiliter ambitiosior bastardus.

Stand by them with arms wide open, heart on your sleeve, with depth in your speech. In time (depending on his or her personality), you will see them do the same.

My Familiarity

A haiku during my time abroad, halfway through semester.

Close the shades
From all I might know
My familiarity
Only now present
begs desist. 

Ten Things I Know to be True

Decided to write this list after viewing Sarah Kay's TEDTalk: If I Should Have a Daughter. I mixed it with the exercise she gives the audience, which involves picking the very first truths to come to mind.

Ten things I know to be true:

1) I bought this laptop the summer before my junior year of high school.
2) I don't want to go to class in an hour.
3) I enjoy making my older brother smile simply by saying, "Don't smile!" in a funny voice.
4) Everyone needs to feel wanted.
5) I become very anxious when I look around a room and everyone is on their mobile phones.
6) I love it when a stranger strikes up a conversation with me.
7) I spend way too much time thinking about how others perceive me.
8) Cooking healthy foods makes me feel grounded.
9) I want a career that will make something better in the world, and I want to see that change before I die.
10) I can't wait to go back to America with new eyes.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Fairy Winter

I wrote this fiction piece while I should have been studying for finals my freshman year of college. In a way, I think my mind reverted back to a story about fairies I loved reading growing up. Ever since, I've loved picking up new books that reference the kind of fairy lore I remember from that very story, since it was lost after all those years of moving with my family. The fairy tale I remember was a comfort to me as a young girl, just as the story I came up with here comforted me during my first year at college. The breaks indicate where I felt the story could use illustrations - at the time I wrote it, I wanted it to look like the children's book I recalled all those years ago. I'd love to be able to write something from which someone in the future would tell me they drew comfort.

The Fairy Winter

Winter was a strong woodland fairy, the very strongest of her kind. She had the ability to enliven plants and flowers during the cold months in her homeland.

 When the spring, summer, and fall months arrived, Winter believed she had no magic at all, being a fairy born apart from the Woodland’s flower-growing season; Especially when all the other fairies started to develop from the palms of their hands a beautiful coating of fairy dust in every color imaginable.

 Sitting amid the bright marigolds and petunias, Winter felt useless. She could procure nothing from her still-dry hands. They were of a pale and dull gray color, and without the cheerful sheen that marked the special abilities of the rest of her fairy peers.

 By late fall, Winter still had not developed the pretty fairy dust that had made everyone else her age unique. One night, while her mind spun restlessly, Winter sat just outside her particular spruce tree, while all the other fairies lay sleeping soundlessly in their hibernation.

Before long, Winter wished most keenly that she could escape the Woodlands trees, and therefore left her warm home to explore the winter season from which she was born.

 What Winter found when she left her familiar spruce tree was quite charming; she instantly felt stronger than ever before. The pure white expanses rolling ahead of her called for her attention, begging to be brought to life.

 She began to notice that she, too, began to brighten like the pure white of the rolling hills.

Winter remembered from her lessons in school that—particularly in the Woodlands—the winters were so frigid that even the toughest of fairies could not animate with magic the beautiful cherry-blossom, carnation, freesia, violet, and iris flowers that adorned the Woodlands in the warm spring and summer months.

 But when Winter glanced down at her glistening golden hands they were marked with the famous pollen that dusted the hands of all the little spring, summer, and fall fairies with which she went to school. Winter realized this made her unique, as she was the only fairy whom could procure fairy dust during the dormant growing season in the Woodlands.  

She possessed a talent that none of the other fairies were capable of, and it made her special.

She melted the tiny snowflakes surrounding the Sitka spruce , dissolved the dying deciduous forest ground, and fevered the terra firma of the fresh frangula tree. Eventually, Winter used her unique golden fairy dust anywhere she felt the Woodlands needed life.

 It was not long before all the fairies of the Woodlands saw the change rapidly illuminating the dull land; They noticed a faint smell of magic lingering in the fresh, brisk winter air about the pine trees, and left to seek its source.

 Meanwhile, Winter touched everything she could with her gold fairy dust-laden hands. She created beautiful winter-blossoming flowers, like Hellebores, Hamemelis, and Corylus Avellana Contorta, all of which she named herself.  

 Winter’s special fairy dust was so strong that its light burned brighter than any other fairy’s in the Woodlands.

It burned so brightly that in no time the little spring, summer, and fall fairies found that the source of light shining in the cold evening was the little fairy Winter, flying between the frozen hilltops and adding color to the pale Woodlands landscape.

The rest of the little fairies of the Woodlands were amazed at what Winter could do. They apologized to Winter, saying how regretfully sorry they were for not recognizing her unique talent.

 Winter provided hope to the Woodlands from then on, a sign to all other fairies that being different did not give leave for the rest of the Woodlands’ fairies to leave her out, setting her apart from them; especially when only she alone could color their homeland during the cold months with winter-blooming flowers, all with a flick of her newfound fairy dust.

 So the next time you find yourself in the Woodlands—perhaps wandering about the snow-blanketed pines and glittering hills—keep in mind that you are never alone, and that Winter is always there, silently awakening the dormant winter-blossoming plants that dot winter's endless white landscape.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

SOC - Classical Music

This is a bit forced as I've lately felt starved from writing and needed a splurge. I played a few songs from my iTunes classical music playlist and wrote down exactly what feelings the music evoked.

"Epic Suite," from the Doctor Who Soundtrack Season 1, 11th Doctor

I'm running through the forest
voices carry toward me
I'm hitting my feet along the thorn bushes
Abrupt end.
Crescendo into something sweetly mysterious
but what color the trumpets give it.
Impending death until The Doctor is sure to come
around the long-winded corner.
Do I belong here? What is my old life?
What is this one? Can he be a part of it?
Safety in his magical dark blue cloak
until I'm too old
for my face to provide him solace.

"7th Syphony" by Beethoven

The dark castle level on Mario Kart
where I'm crossing the stone bridges outside
and trying my damned hardest not to fall.
If I fall I may as well start from the first track,
as it will surely entitle me to less than first place.
The lamps inside the castle flicker and spark,
just like they seemed to inside the mansion in that
story "The Mask of the Red Death" we had to read
in Sophomore year English. All I could picture
while reading that story I remember was
Darth Maul's red horned face,
from Star Wars: Phantom of the Menace -
what a terrible movie.
Unexpectedly cheery section break?
So now the lanterns have been lit,
the old decrepit mansion renovated like the one
in Jumanji.
Is my mind really full of all these useless pop
culture references?
Music has hastened tenfold. This must have been
where Beethoven's cup of coffee kicked in.
Listen to those fingers go.
Now I'm dancing quick-footed across a ballroom
in the mansion from Jumanji, with a boy I've met
since arriving in Northern Ireland.
What I'd give for a little bit of coordination.
As the music slows down, I'm laughing against his
shoulder. No matter how much coordination
my conscious has allotted me for this brief fantasy,
it is not enough to allow me to keep
up with the idiosyncrasies of this symphony, and
as a result, I have stepped on the boy's toe in our dance.

"Doors of Life" by Isaac Shepherd

A fairy most definitely flits across my line of sight:
Things are definitely good now.
She comes back to lean toward me,
conspiratorially looking at me with wide eyes,
cupping one hand around her mouth
as if to stifle the sound from my roommates
and says, "Stop your worry."

"For Lise" by Suzanne Ciani

I leave the uneasy plane behind
and soar through comfort.
I leave my stomach three flips
and 2,000 ft. above me.
I leave Will with it
and fly boundless.

"Expression" by Helen Jane Long

I sleepwalk past what was my own bathroom
and follow the horseshoe shape of the house
through the open doors, tip-toe to my
parents' bathroom instead.
I see their resting bodies along the way.
Was it the bathtub I wanted?
I glide on.
I've wet myself in the tub.
Tears, pee, confusion, wakefulness.
I don't know. I don't know. I don't know.

I'm Probably the Incarnation of a Literary Satirist

About 14 people in all of history have died for every one person living today. Upon reading this statistic the first time in a John Green novel, I could not help but imagine how I might have a certain 14 souls assigned to my life in a way, possibly in a way that allows me to be living this very day. Wouldn't it be lovely just to think about how these 14 people all could have taken some residence within me - together in parts making me the person I've become? I'm sure some people would despise this idea, saying they prefer to think they are wholly unique from anyone who ever lived. But I find it comforting to think it possible that a great person in history may be living in part through me. Unless, of course, you get the ruddy lot of a part of Hitler (but I'll be positive and say that whomever is the living incarnate of sorts for him may have been granted his artistic part, as I've heard he was a good painter). I mean wouldn't it be fracking awesome if a part of me was Jane Austen?

I've tried to tackle this theory into a fictional story, but any way I try to put it together, it gets messy from a religious aspect. Who gets part of Jesus? And I can't rightly call him Jesus and exclude all other religions.

Regardless, I like the idea for me. I've fantasized about who my 14 people would be. Who is living through me day by day? Which is my own quintessentially unique bit, and what kinds of people make up the rest of me? Do I have a tendency for travelling because one of my parts was a gypsy? Did one of my parts sit around campfires and make up long, impossible stories to tell his or her friends as I love to do in my writing?

Mostly I like just to imagine that about half of the 14 parts of me satirized many of life's trivial experiences, as I often do to shake things up a bit. Lately I've found myself more than ever quitting reading and watching the kind of stories I've seen repeated more than enough for a lifetime. I crave something new, and that's what I found lately in reading James Joyce's Dubliners and Seamus Deane's Reading in the Dark. Both are quite similar stylistically, but they each have introduced to me spins on what would normally be nausea-inducing old stories. Likewise, I think this is why I've come to respect so much more over time things like The Perks of Being a Wildflower, The Book Thief, and the new movie with Rachel McAdams "About Time." They're no nonsense/no bullshit stories, and sometimes that's exactly what we need to stop the autopilot on our lives and think about what's important in them.

So that's the subject on which I fantasize. If you ever see me staring into space, I'm liking thinking, "I'm the freaking incarnation of Jonathan Swift and Jane Austen, satirists of our daily lives!"

Monday, October 7, 2013

A Giant Revolving Globe of Dependency

This is my world. Through it, I see 7 billion people who want to be needed. I see babies depending that their every need be met by their mothers. I see fathers relying on the health of their families. I see siblings bickering and bantering. I see managers demanding. I see fickle female peers and middle-aged women pining. I see the elderly reluctantly requiring...

I see the world as it is: a giant, revolving globe of dependency.

To persistently claim that I am on my own - as I have subconsciously done for the past few years of college - I have rather psychologically regressed. As I can't go back and rightfully meet with graciousness every encounter with a person who quenched my needs in some way or other, I'll take this most recent discovery and remember it every day forward. I'll thank the people who wander upon my life like shining beacons, spotting my solitary bobbing boat across the way. I'll thank them for reeling me in, little by little, every day closer to that homey shore.

This post was inspired after a long hike with my friend Gavin.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Week Three - SOC: Finances and Peace of Mind

Country and classical music seem to be my faithful solace. I still regret absentmindedly leaving my iPod in the back compartment of the seat in front of mine on the plane from St. Louis to Newark. What a petty thing to miss among all the other things I have left behind. I don't feel like I've left anything behind, though. Not really. Not when I've never spent more time on Facebook than I do now. I can blame that on the fact that I chose not to get a cheap U.K. mobile phone for my three and a half months here. Does that make me a cheap person? But I feel as though that line is rendered moot when realize I'm living solely on my stipend money. For that reason, I must arrange for my return ticket home to be three weeks earlier than I had originally planned to stay. There's another $300 from the little money I scraped up at the end of my summer delivering pizzas.

Now I think on the kind and generous woman who tipped me so well on two separate occasions. How can I tell myself she is the kind of person I aspire to be if my stream of consciousness runs with thoughts of my lost iPod, or the U.K. phone I haven't bought, or the charge for changing my return ticket back to America in December $...?

I'd like to believe this way of thinking may have arisen from my international roommate, who is studying accountancy and appears to be perpetually budgeting. I wonder if I, too, worry aloud of my own financial situation. What a selfish thing to do. It is only myself for whom I have to provide. And I did the math! If I do leave December 20, that leaves me with about £9.52 a day. If I pay for the cheapest ingredients and all the generic brand foods at Tesco, I'll possibly have enough left toward the end of the semester to head down to see the beautiful library at Trinity College in Dublin. But what about presents for everyone back home? I'm not sure my backpack will be big enough to hold all that, plus the books I bought off Amazon for Contemporary British Literature class. Secretly, I hope all my stuff will not weigh too much going back that I exceed the 50 lb. limit...and have to pay. Oh, this is horrible! I've never felt so concerned with monetary issues. I hope I don't exude this attitude toward expenses to my Irish roommates. Look, a paragraph later, and my thought process is still ridden in materialism.

I can't stop biting my nails - this is the longest I've gone without having nail polish to ward off some of the temptation to do so. I should be reading the book Brick Lane by Monica Ali for one of my modules. The book lay by my feet, shrouded in the unkempt Doctor Who covers I bought for £1 at the charity shop in downtown Coleraine. So far, it's an extremely interesting read. I love the imagery, and the not-so-subtle hints of feminism in the voice. It's going to make my first essay on feminist literary criticism in multicultural fiction quite simple. I really like the lecture for that class - Contemporary British Fiction. Sure he curses every other sentence during lectures, and gives off the vibe that he couldn't care less whether we turn in anything at all during the semester, but I love how real the guy is. There's no bullshit in the way he talks to us or clearly relates to the kinds of things students at our age are experiencing. It's like this is his first and only year teaching, and so he's out to really get to know us as individuals and possibly learn from us a few things. That's what I like about him as a professor, I think. That in his genuine hunger to learn our viewpoints and experiences he has made us students his equals.

I don't know where this post is headed, but it sure has taken awhile to go thus far. Perhaps it is possible to be bad at stream of consciousness. Today another international friend of mine told me that being sick is not made better by constantly stating that you are sick. "You must deny it!" he shouted. I know how strong the mind and willpower can be. I must use it to break my nails from my teeth, pry my eyes from a screen, turn the pages of a good book, and concern myself no more on lavish spending.

Week Three - Some Northern Irish Jargon

Just a quick list of words and expressions I've learned to translate from the Northern Irish jargon:

"Craic" or "What's the craic?" : Fun or What's up? (Assimilated into casual conversation from the Irish word literally meaning "fun".
"Taking the piss" : They are just messing with you.
"How are getting on?" : How are you doing?
"You know your guy/girl --?" : Even if they are talking about a famous person whom you've never met, a Northern Irish person may say, "You know your guy Bob Saget?" when mentioning a specific person.
"Come at half 2." : Come at 2:30.
"It's good banter." : This is sort of another way of saying something is fun. It may also refer to a good conversation.
"The taxi will drop you there." : The taxi will drop you off there.
"There will be lifts arranged." : There will be rides arranged (to take you somewhere).
"We'll get you sorted." : I hear this expression all the time. It can mean "We'll help you" or "Let's see what we can do to fix the situation."
"Class!" : Cool!
"Aye." : Almost always used instead of "yes".
Trolley : Shopping cart
(Bank) notes : Cash
"Yoke" or "Look at that yoke!" : Something. A word used in place of "thing".
"Wee" : Replacement word for "small" or "short" or "younger". I.e. "Just fill out the wee card on the table."
"Wee bit" : Only used with speaking of a small amount of something.
"You's" : You all or you guys.
"Veg out" : Relax
"Deadly" : Difficult, as in "That exam was deadly."
"waffling on" : When someone is rambling on in their speech.