Monthly Archives: February 2011

Have I found you, flightless bird

 Flightless Bird, American Mouth by Iron and Wine                                                        …diving too deep for coins…

There are certain things that I keep forgetting, certain things I keep being too scared to own up to and just do. I have this terrible problem where I get incredibly embarrassed anytime someone reads or sees something I’ve created. In fact, sitting in the living room watching my dad read my post the other week was an incredibly uncomfortable moment for me (sorry Dad). It’s been the case for so long.

When I took guitar lessons, my teacher would ask me to show her what I’d just learned. I would begin to giggle uncontrollably and just stall as long as possible. My first guitar performance was for one person, quite the audience. I made him go to the other side of the room and look the other way. Yes, I am that bashful, embarrassed person when it comes to these things. It’s derived from this terrible problem of perfectionism. This random doodle above probably took me close to two hours and I can still find flaws in it. Two years ago, I stayed up all night doing this project called a digital narrative. I had to create a video and voice over explaining why writing was important to me. I created a still shot video for a digital narrative on my website ( I sound like I know what I am talking about. Don’t be fooled..) I cringed while I watched it..the timing was off, this shot is too close, this is too fast. My friends kept saying they thought it was good and I spent the entire time nitpicking for every error I could find. I guess you could say it’s a good thing, but it’s a hinderance. Instead of being excited or proud of this creative process, I am afraid to own these things I love to do.

I spent all afternoon looking through old doodles and my IB art book. If you don’t know what “IB” is, it’s unimportant. Just know that it’s what allowed me to graduate early and also where I learned to “b.s.” We had a sketch book where we were supposed to brainstorm ideas for projects. It was supposed to be completely research and planning. My teacher was generous in her grading since my five pages a week rarely consisted of that. More often they looked like this… 

Each page turned into a project of its own, similar to how this blog is unfolding. While looking through all the pages, I realized that what I write and create has changed and matured much more than I thought it had. The thing is, I have this little knack, this thing that I love. It’s where I just take a phrase, a concept and write it down. I start to trace the letters, again and again. The key has always been in how you form your lines, the thickness, the curliness, the short, staccato, jagged edges. That’s where the words come alive. Then they turn into these images, these corresponding shapes and colors. It turns into something totally different from when I began. That’s what my art book is filled with. Pages of these words I couldn’t get out of my head. Pages of word-art. Word-watercolor-art. I guess I’ll call it my style. We all have one, right?

So this word-art thing has become a hobby, an obsession of sorts. Every holiday is an excuse to use it.

I honestly love every second of it. I spent twelve hours painting a water-color for a birthday present last year. Maybe you’re thinking, “twelve hours, really? That’s a little much.” Despite how odd it sounds, there is something seductively calming about the entire process. It’s absolutely mindless and pure, devoid of stress. The way my hands follow a line, tracing it, making it thicker until it reaches this state of near perfection in my eye. If I stare close enough, I always find an imperfection, a place where the line meanders from the path I wanted. The thing is, I love this. And it has taken me an incredibly long time to say that. An even longer time to actually consider doing something with it. Looking through all of these random pages in notebooks in my room, I don’t see how I ever considered just forgetting this. Just making it a thing to do when I was bored, when there were holidays near.

So, are you asking, “now what?” Because I sure am.

There are lines, right. And you learn to walk them. Well, I think sometimes, you have to learn to cross that line. It’s the sort of thing you have to own, as they say. You have to want it. So this is me, trying to figure out what I want. I’ve got these pieces, but I’m not too sure how to make them work. There are so many venues, so many opportunities. It’s a nice feeling, but it’s the type of thing that’s made me want to play it safe in the past. What I’m supposed to do is get a job. What I’m supposed to do is find a way to pay some bills. It’s always been what I’m supposed to do, right. I think maybe I’m supposed to do a little something else. Remember that list I mentioned? The one that I said was next to my bed? Well, this will be a part of it. And this will be one of those things that I will check. Dreams are supposed to be unrealistic and hard to reach, right? These random little things I call word-watercolor-art, they’re part of this dream I’m formulating. America is the place where dreams come true..or is that Disney..either way I think it’s about time I stop walking this line.

 

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get over your hill and see

“After the Storm” by Mumford and Sons

Have you ever felt like you are responsible for stifling your own dreams? That perhaps the only thing stopping you from doing what it is you really want, is the person you see in the mirror.

Recently,  I have been stagnating. The list of things I want to do or should do is growing, but nothing seems to be checked or crossed out. The irony is that in a time where I have the most freedom to do all of this, I find myself not wanting to do a single thing.

This has carried over into most categories of my life. Running is probably the worst of them all. Running has been therapeutic to me in the past, but in the past month that feeling has been dwindling. It’s become a chore that I find more reasons to not do than to do.

Running is chalked full with variables. A single run can be such a feat. Because of wind, because of sleep, because of anything really. The amount of injuries, the tally of days I wanted to quit, the reasons to run, the reasons to not run, the time neglected to be found. To think I’ve been training for several months and all of that could be for nothing just by making one wrong move. One tiny injury.

For running being such a big part of who I am right now, I find it hard to say much about it. Maybe because it is not worth talking about at all, but there is always something to say I suppose. What I don’t want to admit is that I find an obscene amount of parallels between running and this stage in my life.

All of my injuries in running have been completely due to the way in which I run. I find that to be utterly profound. The fact that my ankles roll in on every step, the way in which my hips ache on ten milers, the over rotating, pronating, cramps, trips and falls. My own form cripples me. Certain shoes can fix parts of it, strengthening muscles, reducing miles, but the fact of the matter is that these problems are slightly unfixable. You’re body creates a step that you commit to as long as you walk. A step to break or build.

The trick when you run is to never look too far ahead. You want to focus on something nearby, a mailbox, light post, or house. You stare at it until you pass it, then focus your eyes on the next upcoming landmark. You never let your eyes stray too far from the dark tar beneath your feet because if you watch the horizon, you might not make it.

In Blacksburg, there was this awful hill near my house. It was hidden in some forgotten neighborhood two blocks away. If you haven’t been to Blacksburg, you should know that the are countless hills, the kind worth avoiding when running or riding bikes. Despite the steepness, I found myself mapping runs around  this one hill. Every time, a slacken pace, shallow breathes, and burning legs. But the top, the top made it worthwhile. Sometimes it feels like the hills encase you in Blacksburg, as if these walls were placed around the entire town. You can rarely see much more than the mile in front of you. But, there, at the top of that hill, you could see everything.

Sometimes it helps to look just two steps ahead. It helps to focus on the present, the next two miles, the upcoming hours. But it is so easy to become consumed with this mindset where you can never see anything, but the immediate. So much so that you forget what it’s like to see the whole thing.

All I can see is this hill in front of me, these things I should have done or should be doing. And it makes things seem so impossible, just like the way it feels when I get to the last mile of a run with cramps and aching legs. I would give anything to give up and walk sometimes. I would give anything to have a clear mind and the right view. But those things take time and instead of staring at this hill, dreading it, maybe I should push through it. Maybe I should find the time to do what I love and not forget what it’s like to see the whole view. That list that’s sitting next to my bed. I want to check the things off. I want to look back and think that I did something right.

It’s hard to get it right sometimes. Just like it’s hard to find the words to write or the motivation for that last ten miler before the big race. Sometimes, all you can help to see is those few feet in front of your thumping feet. And maybe there is nothing wrong with that at all, but when you forget. When you forget how to do those things you used to love, when it becomes a chore, when it seems like there is nothing but a list always in front of you. When you find it is just your own weaknesses that allow these things to never be done. It’s a terribly hopeless feeling.

The difference lies in the changes you make and the path you take. My path is structureless and out of focus. Sometimes, all it takes is one good run to reignite the fervor for training. To forget that these injuries are self-induced and that there is more strength in my own stride than I often believe. Sometimes, that’s all you need.

And while I’m struggling to find the words to keep this project afloat, find solace in this song. It’s a hope-builder.

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It Goes On

“It Goes On and On” by the Avett Brothers

Do you ever get this feeling, where you feel almost like the person living your life isn’t you? It’s never really for the same reason. Sometimes it’s fatigue. Sometimes you are so tired that you watch your body in it’s motion, completely detached. Sometimes it’s because you do something, and can’t believe you were capable of that action, surprising yourself in a way. Or maybe it’s this: you hear about people everyday doing things and it’s always been known, expected, determined that you would do those things too. And when you begin to fall into those roles, doing those pre-determined things, it’s always a funny feeling to see how your version of the “story” turns out.

So, here I am. I am an unemployed, post-grad, a tune well played these days. While I could easily spend all of my time talking about how awful it is trying to find a job, the long tedius process of being rejected time and time again, the long night internet searches, the desperate, “I’ll apply for anything I can get,” mood, etc. Most everyone has gone through this whether it was for the summer job, internship, career, or just a whatever job. It always amazes me how unimpressive a person can be on paper. It’s a very belittling feeling, to list your so called accomplishments in a Word document and get three lines down only to say, “that’s it?” Yes, that’s it.

Despite that discouraging moment, I’ve concluded simply that a sheet of paper is an unfair judge of a person. The challenge, I suppose, is to learn to market all your oh so wonderful attributes in as few words as possible. Oh the joys of job searching!

Well, here I am, unemployed, and well, struggling to continue doing what I enjoy. Something in the insecurity after college makes you question every aspect of your life. You wonder if you majored in the right thing. It’s too late to fix that really, but you wonder. You wonder why you decided to take Language and Logic to count for a math instead of doing something more practical, more marketable for that list you have to keep updating. And all those times you did things so you could, “build your resume.” Maybe that wasn’t as helpful as you thought it would be. Do you still love writing? Is it really what you wanted to do for the rest of your life? Well there isn’t much of a choice now is there. You play mind games. You convince yourself that there is absolutely no job right for you, so you better become brilliant over night and create the next Harry Potter before the bank runs dry. Yeah, this is the life I look at and think, so this is my life.

I’m not sure I am doing the feeling justice. There are these landmarks that we always knew would come, and they come more quickly than anyone ever warns you. High School graduation, pick a college, make a career, get a hott hubby, get hitched, make babies, get old, get bitter…okay not bitter, but we all know the story. Each time I’ve hit one of these landmarks, I’m surprised, not necessarily in a bad way. I am surprised because life is never what you expect it to be. And I am sorry to all those creative writing majors out there who recognize that last line as a cliche. Sometimes the cliches are the most accurate version of this thing we call life. Oh that sounds like another…

This is the first time I’ve written in a while and it feels too good to be true. I felt like a disgrace to my generation when I found myself yelling at the computer and frowning at this oh so confusing computer screen trying to follow through on my goal. I am more technologically challenged than I thought I was…and just as long winded as ever.

So, the writing bit. Let’s be honest, I was struggling with this whole theme thing. It seemed a little too self involved to just start a blog and write whatever my heart pleases. I needed some sort of confine, right? I mean, who will read this if I don’t have some cutesie theme or some really amazing thing needed to be said. I really have neither of those, at least I will not claim to either. My excuse for a theme is just lines. You all have them I’m sure. That line in a song, that part in the book, just that moment when the words come together perfectly and everything connects. My personal favorite moment is the way in which a song and lyric build to this perfectly constructed moment that it provides this sensation in you where you want to just close your eyes and sing your lungs out. It’s a moment that, honestly, I find hard to define. So, that will be my theme. These will be the song titles, the favorite lines, the exquisit moments, the, “you get me,” feelings we’ve all had. Some of these will be mine. Some of them will just be random songs I like, or books I am reading. But really, I admit that I have an overplayed list of songs in my head and books are harder to get through at times than I would like. So, feel free to help, to suggest, to try to change my taste. I could use a new playlist all around.  And that is the challange. The challenge is to use these random pieces and try to make something new, something in my own words. These are my thoughts. These are the notes I’m making about life, about the world, in hopes that I won’t forget how to construct a sentence, a perfect story, or how to recognize those pesky cliches.

Listen to the song, don’t listen to the song, but know that it’s the theme. Doesn’t everything go on? Most of us live our lives in this constant state of panicked motion so that we hardly have the time to breath, to blink, to just stop and see something. As we roll through the days, they pass in a manner never as we would expect, but exactly how they should. And life goes on, right?  We have to go on. There is something in the dwelling that makes us lose that secure feeling that the hecticness of each day provides. So, don’t dwell too long. Don’t let the words linger on the tip of your tongue, but do stop long enough to remember what it is you were hoping for. I am hoping that I will learn to write something outside myself and that one day, someone will think it’s a line worth borrowing, worth titling a blog over, just worth it.

…it goes on

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