i’ve been home two days and my mother has already made 11 frustrated/snide remarks about my hair (i’ve been keeping a tally) and the rest of them have either been about the poop brown fleece jacket i took from my dad and live inside of, or my general shortage of fucks about anything pertaining to my appearance at all if i’m not leaving the house for the day but let’s face it she really means just in general
oh how good
how good 2 be home
The more I think about it, the more I realize just how special tonight was for everyone involved. I’ll probably write something of substance once I’m back in the homeland, but until then, all I have to say is this: if you want to do something, do it. If you want to go to a foreign city for a single night of music, scrounge up enough money for a way to get there. Always try to work around the obstacles. If it’s what you want, it will all be worth it in the end. I promise.
but i get to spend many hours in the car and that is my favorite state of existence
i wish i could just be curled up awkwardly with a book and a quickly passing landscape for all of my life i don’t need real things i just need that
i was upset that the layers flake
and unfurl on each other,
and that as soon as another gloss
finds its way to patch the flecks
of near-orange yellow, of spit,
the dull green, titled something romantic,
like brazen marsh,
forces through a crack,
a stubborn snake the lava
as the plates of the earth slide
beneath the overpriced picture frames
housing surfboards, lazy attempts
to remember a culture i know nothing about.
but you said we all paint our porches orange.
i don’t go out on the porch anymore
but to forget i’m there,
laughing at jokes about my affect
that pain me
as i shuffle a deck of moldy cards,
or to rummage through an old drawer
that sticks and makes me swear, sweating
i never remember what i’m looking for
in a heap of half-written birthday cards
addressed to names that sound like
the kind of people who write songs about the grand canyon.
the walls scoff when i return,
managing to stay pristine
as my paint chips
and splinters of marble
coat the discordant carpet,
allowing a wisp as polished
as the vintage orange panels
to drift away, unannounced.
|—||May Sarton (via writingquotes)|
In high school, there was a slightly off-beat guy who sometimes hung out with my friends and I at lunch. We were not really friends with him, we didn’t know him that well, and we never tried to. He was in his own world most of the time, eccentric, but always reaching out for some type of connection. A lot of people made fun of him, and the nicest of them (or cruelest) simply ignored him.
Sometimes at lunch he would ask us if we would like him to sing for us. We let him do his thing, and he would usually put on full performances, dancing and everything. At the time, the socially appropriate thing for us to do seemed to laugh, to give the impression to the people we thought were watching us and him, watching us hanging out with him, that we thought he was crazy. We were reaching out for connection and approval with the masses that believed him crazy.
His performances used to remind me of the audition episodes of American Idol. The ones where we laugh at people who believed in themselves enough to give their dream a shot, and we justify our immaturity by asserting that if, someone puts themselves out there, they open themselves to that kind criticism. Except, our laughter at audition episodes of American Idol is not criticism. Those episodes are exploitive, and are our modern version of freak shows, as is a lot of “reality” television.
What I’m trying to say is that this guy, who used to sit with us and innocently believed he was entertaining us with his songs, sucked. He could not sing. At all. I used to watch him sometimes and pray that he would never delude himself into anything like American Idol, because I wouldn’t be able to bear the disgust that people vomit when they’re sneering, all self-importantly, at someone I knew, even if I didn’t really know him.
I asked him one time how long he had been singing, and he said his whole life. His parents always supported him, he said, encouraging him, telling him what a good singer he was.
That was the first time I found myself struggling deeply with the idea of objectivity as it related to art.
Singing is not writing, or painting, I know that. In singing, there is usually a clear way to tell who and what is empirically good and who isn’t, and I understand that. I realize that with art, which is built on perception and interpretation, things are a little less clear. I still don’t know what objectively good writing is, and I’m not sure there is objectively good writing, despite what the English major will have me believe sometimes.
Yet I find myself believing that there is objectively bad writing. Which is kind of paradoxical, I know.
It’s just, when I think of that guy, who so believed he was good and his parents told him so all the time, I think to myself, OK be realistic. The reality is, is that not everyone who wants to be a writer is good, just like not everyone who wants to be a singer is good. Of the people who want to be writers, there will be a large chunk of them that are simply bad, just like the audition episodes of American Idol. Wanting something really badly is not the same as being good at it.
The anxiety this thought induces,—that passion and dedication and hard work without talent will get me nowhere—if it inhabits my mind too long, is usually enough to get me googling business schools, and planning for an MBA, because at least then, I can fail at something I don’t define myself by.
|—||Stephen Colbert (via athousandfaces)|
Kevin Devine has released a new live album called Matter of Time: KD&GDB Tour EP 2012. You can stream it below by clicking “Read More.”
oh my god.
I have a strange urge to write this all over my mirror, but I have no expo markers.
Do you ever make those stupid little bets with yourself?
“If the next song is by this artist, then I will have a good day.”
“If I finish this essay by noon, then I am going to get an A on it.”
“If the sun is at a thirty degree angle to the Earth and shines on the left side of the third tree in the forest and THAT TREE is a maple, with a family of squirrels living in a hole halfway up, then he will call me back. I just know it.”
Do these “hidden messages” have any meaning? What are we trying to trick ourselves into believing? That we have the power to predict the future? That the silent hope of the universe is screaming for our attention, we just never take the time to pay attention?
Hope is a tricky thing, I think. I can never quite tell whether I’m being hopeful or naive. I like to think my intentions are always best but you can never really tell in this multicolored world. Something beautiful may be an unflattering shade of taupe in the morning, something that makes your hair stand on end or your body rigid with frustration.
IF ONLY YOU HAD PAID ATTENTION.
MAYBE THEN YOU WOULDN’T BE IN THIS PLACE.
MAYBE THEN YOU WOULDN’T BE TRAPPED IN ALL THIS CONFUSION.
MAYBE THEN YOU WOULD BE ABLE TO SLEEP AT NIGHT.
WHY COULDN’T YOU JUST FUCKING PAY ATTENTION?
Now you’re more confused. Am I really the one who should be blamed? Is it really my fault? What about everyone else? Didn’t they have some sort of impact?
Then something catches your attention. It’s that third tree. But the sun is not at the thirty degree angle, it’s at 29. There are no squirrels anywhere. And a mockingbird sits on the third branch from the bottom, whistling a sweet tune that you’re sure you’ve heard before.
Hello old friend. Is this a test?
Hope is back and Hope is taunting you. What is it trying to say?
“I’m sorry to have caused you all this trouble.”
“I promise it won’t happen again.”
Look at Hope. It’s so beautiful, so warm, so mysteriously appealing. So you dive in, you take the risk. You don’t care because in that moment, it’s just you and Hope. It’s a split second but it’s something that you will carry with you for the rest of your life.
Hope, you beautiful, malicious, bitch, you.
You’re going to have to speak louder.
i think one of the worst things about people is that you can’t just openly admit to wanting to know someone. like i guess you can, but unless you want to be “that guy” you can’t just be like, “i want to be your friend.” because it’s just so not the norm of luring someone to you with your personality. i can’t even imagine what the world would be like if you could go up to someone and be like, “don’t you want to be part of this? because i think we could make it happen. let’s just experience life together. let’s get right in that middle part of the venn diagram and pool our info.”
like i’m positive you could take any two people and force them to interact and on a long enough timeline they’d eventually just bond. i mean it’s hard to hate anyone once you learn even just one human thing about them. it’s happened to me and it’s the most frustrating thing. you hate a guy in class and then you have to work together on some project for nine hours and then you find out he’s hopelessly in love with someone who doesn’t even know his name or something and you’re like, “fuck, am i really relating to you right now?” and all of a sudden it’s like this pocket dimension forms where you’re just two entities detached from reality. it’s like you’re floating in some timeless void where everything you say makes the other person think, “i feel that too and i love that you’re even acknowledging it.” but it’s sad because you both sort of know it’s this connection that’s going to fade away the second you leave the room. because it’s a thing that could only exist under those circumstances. on any normal day there would be too many other factors in play, even shallow shit like, “do i think this person is too ugly for me to want to hang out with? do i think the sound of their voice is annoying? are we just from two different circles?”
whenever i see birds sitting on power lines i kind of assume they all know each other. just based on the fact that they’re all birds and they all do the same bird things each day and they’re physically close. but then it’s like, people are all people who do the same people things and i’ve never looked at a group of them and thought, “yeah they must all be in it together.” i guess what i’m getting at is that everything is separated, even things that you don’t really think have to be, and it’s weird. also you shouldn’t assume birds know each other, because they could just be like two birds standing on the same thing.
My roommate and I are taking women’s studies 300 with Chris Shelley every Wednesday night. In fact that is how I am spending my birthday night next week. Bless my dear roommate, she is a feminist of the most enthusiastic kind, and the number of times I saw her hand shoot up and then pull back in the three hour period was uncountable.
On the bus ride home, we discussed many topics as we often do. There are several topics we discussed, mostly concerning patriarchy, trans issues and sexual education in public schools. The image that continues to resonate with me after spending three hours listening to a wonderfully intelligent professor speak about the origins of feminism as a dialogue, after spending another hour speaking of these things over popcorn with my roommate, is the beautiful blonde girl, Ashley, who sat beside me in the front row. She looked well off, and if I were to paint some broad generalizations, looked as if she’d never wanted for anything, food or material things, and was beautiful in the most commercial ways. But she was hungry for more information. She told us that she’d seen Miss Representation with her roommate and she was angered by it. And that led her there, to WMST 300.
Another image that sticks with me is the people who raised their hands and said, “I don’t understand what you mean.” That is true of a lot of people, who take women studies and are hit with something they’ve never even encountered before. Something that for all intents and purposes is painted as a farce, or an unnecessary and outdated avenue of study. Some people hate feminism for reasons they can’t even explain. They feel feminism deletes femininity.
Perhaps the most hopeless I’ve felt about this issue of inequality, the problems associated with capitalism and anti-feminism is this past summer, when I had a conversation concerning feminism with a driven, motivated, intelligent, woman, one of the most talented people I’ve met during my undergrad. She has excellent communication skills, a great family, and is going to complete a PhD. She said to me that she doesn’t need feminism, doesn’t understand why people are still discussing it. She has the vote, she is able to do everything she wants, and for all intents and purposes she has all the rights she needs, what is the issue? Why are women still fighting and making a fuss? We’re equal, get over it already!
I have been taught, have read about, and have seen in action certain institutional powers that have influence upon the roles we eventually play in our communities. I speak from a personal place when I say that women, although by law and by civil rights are free to direct their lives as they please, do not allow themselves the same personal freedom.
As a child and a teenager I was taught that the most important thing I will do in my lifetime is get married and rear a family. The importance of that was placed upon such a pedestal that I wanted nothing more than to hurry into that lifestyle. I saw feminism as an attack upon that ideal, that way of life that I wanted for myself. I saw feminism as an attack upon my personal identity as a woman, as feminine, and as a homemaker.
I still don’t know or understand the ramifications that mindset has had upon the way I present myself and function in relationships.
I have been self-teaching myself feminist theory, educating myself about trans issues, and LGBTQ rights for about two years now, and I still feel inadequate in my knowledge base. It is one thing to discuss the issues at hand, such as the value of work in the private sphere, the lack of representation of women in the forums of government, the gendering of certain spheres of educational study (nursing or ECE vs. engineering or science, for example).
It is an entirely different issue when you say, “Ok, so how do we fix this?”
It’s overwhelming. Radical feminist theory suggests that our institutions are inherently patriarchal, there is no chance of reform. A radical revolution is necessary for complete gender equality.
Marxist feminist theory suggests the root of issues lies with the capitalist system of competition.
There’s a lot of freaking theory. A lot of essays to read. I’m not sure I can keep myself awake through them all, in between shifts at Starbucks.
I suppose the take away from all this is that we just need to keep talking. Need to keep having discussions on the bus, around the kitchen table with our roommates.
We need to keep saying, “I don’t understand”, and then actively seeking answers.
We need to place our hope in people like Ashley, who dive head first into a topic they know nothing about, who take a class because of a documentary they saw and got angry about. We need to place our hope in people discovering something new.
And above all, if anyone ever tells me that feminism and everything I learn and discuss in all my waking hours is “dead”, “unnecessary”, or “outdated”, I will inform them they are wrong.
I will inform them that I was taught by a system, society, and institution that I am more valued if I am sexually attractive, and sexually viable. I was taught that my success in life depends upon a heterosexual marriage and the success of my children and home. I was taught that it is my job to support men in their endeavours. I was taught that if I want to be the best I can be, I must be thin (and sexually attractive). I was taught that if I want to succeed in a professional business venture, or in the work force, I must pay more than men to look better, to get my hair done, or buy the best clothes, and makeup. I was taught that big breasts are powerful, if you have them. I was taught that I should be quiet, and soft-natured. I was taught that I should guard my chastity like a prize, because I am useless without purity. I was taught that I should be apologetic, submissive, passive, and forgiving.
Some things do not need forgiving. Although they need peace, they do not need forgiving.
I have been taught a lot of wrong, as have a lot of other people.
We gave Ashley a list of documentaries to watch. If she can see that there is something wrong, I have hope for all of these overwhelming ideas, that one day, one day we might be able to understand.