Monthly Archives: March 2011

just words

Just my words, to be more precise. Here’s a post that holds nothing, but my own words. No songs, no pictures or art, just me. In my most simple form.

I’ve been reading more than usual recently. It’s the first time reading has acted as an escape instead of an assignment. In school, most of my assignments were reading, which is not atypical in any sense, but it was easier to read two 300 some page books a week when it was for an assignment. Now, I look at a thick book and honestly, I want to run. I will sit in my room and stare into space instead of embarking on that kind of challenge..at least usually. So what have I read? Just some books my friends have suggested. Over Christmas I read Perelandra by C.S. Lewis. That was refreshing to say the least. It’s the second of a space trilogy. I never considered myself to be a big science fiction fan, but the books I’ve read suggest otherwise. I guess Lewis may not be everyone’s cup of tea, and really no writer will be, but the philosophies he has are enticing and interesting. Much of that philosophy includes Christianity, and well, before you run for the hills…the reason it’s interesting is because it takes a common concept, often misconstrued and clichéd in our culture, and puts it in an unfamiliar landscape. The problems in these novels are things that you would expect when traveling to another planet. You know the usual, Americans wanting to harvest the resources of another planet..sound familiar? It’s not really about that as much as it is about people. What they do and why they do it. My synopsis anyway. These books have kept my interest because they allow me to see a beaten idea revitalized and anew. That’s a difficult thing to do in my opinion. The next in the series is That Hideous Strength which I am really looking forward to. (Nerdy)

 Next, was a book much different from the last. Brief Interviews with Hideous Men by David Foster Wallace. That book was exhausting at points. He reminds me of Vonnegut and Paulinuk as well as people like Kathy Acker and the all time exhausting narrative, Naked Lunch by William Burroughs. Although, Wallace was nowhere near that level of absurdity, his narrative is all over the place. I guess there’s a point, but the acclamation takes a few chapters. Some would say Burroughs was a genius and perhaps he was, but for a college student, he was a pain that encouraged me to never speak in class or b.s. exponentially when called upon.

The thing is, few of you have read these authors, and I would hardly jump the gun and grab one of these to pass the afternoon. Consider it a challenge to read Burroughs. Consider it exhausting to read Breakfast of Champions by Vonnegut. However, I don’t want to make myself seem in conflict with this narratives. Reading each was a learning process and I will say that I have never read a book without some sort of positive experience or some sort of learning occurring. Brief Interviews..was suggested by a classmate after reading a short story I wrote. One, that I may consider posting, but I am hesitant as usual. Although the two are very dissimilar, they were similar in that there is a format of unasked questions being answered. The challenge was making it obvious what those questions were without beating them to death. Wallace does it in such a way that the questions really don’t matter. You could possibly guess what he said, but in terms of the book it didn’t matter. I can’t say reading Wallace helped my short story along all that much, but a good writer is a reader, at least that’s what they say. My favorite parts to the book were not the interviews, but instead the random narrative in between. They didn’t necessarily connect to the interviews, but they reverberated similar tones and messages in a different way. I’ve gotten into the practice of writing down quotes from books that I find compelling.

“There seems to be something death-tending at the very heart of all Romance (‘…that ever love story is also {a} ghost story…’)

The nice thing about quotes and lyrics is that they say it all.

So after that, I read two brief books a friend gave to me. The Transall Saga by Gary Paulsen and The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells. It’s sort of nice to actually be able to list off books recently read. These two were my first taste of escape fiction for as long as I can remember. It’s nice to get lost in words, to forget what time it is or what there is left to do. The Transall Saga is definitely young adult fiction. The first chapters, I felt a little snobby. I found myself guessing at the plot and laughing since the conflict happened in the second paragraph and continued to escalate at a rate I wasn’t used to. I guess a lot of books I read are slow-moving. They pick one thing and focus on it, analyze it, engross it. This book was purely an adventure for the character and after a while, me too.

The Island of Dr. Moreau was my first introduction to H.G. Wells. I know, an English major and I have hardly read anything at all! I give myself “tisk tisks” all the time for it. This book was really Frankenstein-like. I think for me the most interesting part was considering this book in relation to recent fiction. It’s much shorter and very thorough as to what the point is. Other books from that time follow a similar trend. Now, I think we are in this stage where fiction is either very flighty and exaggerated or very downtrodden, discussing how all is wrong in the world. Maybe that hasn’t change as much as the manner these things are explored. The tricky thing in writing is that everything has more or less been said already. So, the writer’s task is to find a way to say it to surprise, to entice, to make people reconsider. Isn’t it funny, that people have always been alive, thinking, eventually writing and reading, studying, and essentially trying to better things or figure them out. Do you find it funny at all that we are still looking for those same answers? That we have different ideas or phrasing left? It’s a funny thing to me, at least.

And there is Slaughterhouse Five which I finished yesterday afternoon. It really does feel great to say I’ve finished these books. Honestly, my track record for downtime reading is awful. If I start a book, I used to never finish it and if I did, it wouldn’t be for a couple of months. Read this one in a few days. I just feel good about that, okay. Vonnegut is interesting to me. This book was much more coherent than the other I read by him. At first, I felt similar to when I read Wallace in that it’s exhausting at first. Once you get past that initial shock of the narrative style, it moves quickly. So, Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time. This book is my father’s favorite. We talked about it a bit and in doing so, I realized how much more interesting it is to read and discuss than to just read. I love talking about books. I was that annoying girl in my classes that was always talking and always had something to say, even about Beowulf. Yeah, that’s me. My dad was talking about the idea of the book being that you don’t have control over your life. He teaches it in class and he asked them about free will and whether it really existed. As many of us would, the students defended the notion that they had control over their lives. And my dad brought up Japan in telling my friend and me the story. He asked if we thought that was those people’s will and I doubt any of us would say yes. I know in class I would have possibly argued that parts of our lives are choice, but there are certain factors we can’t control. But some things are as easy to believe as a man who time travels and is kidnapped and put on display in a zoo in Tralfmadore.

So, now I am reading 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and thinking about how all the books one my friend suggests are somehow about science or scientists themselves. And I was thinking about people and what makes them who they are. There are so many factors that the answer is indeterminate, but it’s nice to have those little things we can track or point to when we want to know why. I’m worried this will further my already irrational fear of submarines and drowning. Ironic since I spent many of my summers working at a pool. Writers love irony, just if you didn’t already know. And then I’ve got this exercise book for graphic design…

I’ve got a stack of books by my bed. I could always add more. My teacher told me when I decided not to apply to graduate school right way that this was the time for me to learn on my own. People ask if I miss college. I think the only thing I miss so far is someone to be there to give me perspective when all I see are chapters and words. The things right in front of you are the hardest to see.

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I’m gonna build somebody else

  Symbol In My Driveway

Jack Johnson

This picture really only serves to appease the more visually driven people. A personal confession: I think I am not too concerned with how each post looks or what pictures to include most of the time. In fact, it is burdensome and makes me lose track of what I really wanted to do in the first place. Write.

It’s been a while. I could you could say I’ve been processing and reprocessing the things around me, the things going on, or more accurately the things that haven’t happened. I am neglecting to mention a trip to Florida and my first half marathon until now mostly because I don’t think anyone cares or should care about that. If you want to know, you could always ask. This is not what that’s for, or at least I don’t want it to be. I don’t want to be hindered by the number of views I have in a day, like the number of comments or notifications I can receive. It’s a moot point.

One thing I am never short of these days is advice. In all honesty, I always have advice for people and taking my own advice is probably the thing that happens the least in my life. Luckily, everyone sees the unemployed, struggling college grad as an easy target to unload advice and life stories on. The advice doesn’t go unappreciated, although I will say that this time has led to an increase in my already sensitive person. Yes, I often take things personally that I shouldn’t and, no, I don’t really like to admit that often. My most recent advisor was met in the local coffee shop. I was trying to leave since the place was closing, but he continued to quietly suggest things to do or not to do. He told me how he would hire someone and what he would look for. I walked away feeling slighted because, well, when you have to admit you can’t do it on your own…Here are the two points to take away. First, I am extremely stubborn right now and resistant to the idea that I may have to go back to the same summer job I’ve had for the past four years. Second, the man told me to write. He told me that he’d much rather hire someone who has been busy doing something, anything, and growing despite their unemployment. Naturally, I felt guilty. I’ve been reading and applying for jobs, but writing. That hasn’t been happening or coming as easily as it used to.

I could account for that in several ways. For one, I don’t have much going on. No one wants to admit it and once you admit it, it becomes an infection on your brain and perception of yourself. All these things become so exaggerated especially with the amount of free time I have. And the solution is to find something to do. The solution is to stop thinking about things in that way. The solution is to do something and find something to say. I’m not looking for more advice or an answer. I think I just want control over my life again. A foolish notion no doubt since there is no such thing. I guess I want the belief of control.

I just keep thinking about people. I think about how we all have those things that make the days pass, sometimes worth while, sometimes just time passers. School, work, God, family, children,  books, art, running…whatever it is, it’s what gives structure to a day, it gives meaning to existence and shape to what comes next. If you were to ask me what’s next, I wouldn’t know how to answer. In the back of my mind there is this festering notion that having a job wouldn’t make me feel much better about things. It would make things easier no doubt. It would stop the advisors, it would stop the persisting questions from my parents, it would stop that flag in the back of my mind always saying, “no money, no job, no life.” That’s a bit more dramatic than it actually occurs. However, as someone who often takes things personally, it is incredibly difficult to apply for twenty some jobs in a month and not hear back from a single one. Oh, I did get a rejection email today…mind you I also got an email asking for an interview to write for some website no one has heard of.

The other piece of advice the coffee shop man told me was to never send my resume in an email…now I had no idea how to break the news to him that most job applications are online and they encourage you to submit online. Don’t worry, I am sufficiently angry about the subject since I believe it makes it easier to reject mass numbers of hopeful applicants without ever seeing a face or hearing a voice. Most job postings now include, “no calls.” So that classic advice of following up with a call now looks like a, “no-no,” to me, the hopeful and often disappointed applicant. Let me just some up the job search process by saying, it sucks.

I now watch old movies where the hopeful applicant takes a newspaper, circles jobs, and goes in asking for an interview with such envy. Of course, I can still call and go in to ask for the job, but it’s drastically different. The job offer I may be getting is for a website. The editor is in Mexico. My position would be filled from my desktop computer at home. Tell me, is that surprising to you?

As a side note, the unfortunate thing for you, the reader, is that when I do actually write, I have a ton to say.

Sometimes, I think I belong in a different time. A time where this would be in a paper journal that no one would read unless I handed them that journal. Aspects of this period are so nice and easy. But I can’t imagine how people had confidence before. Jack Johnson, a pretty awesome writer and musician in my opinion, would have to gain confidence through concerts, not through Facebook page fans, or Twitter followers. As another side note, I make fun of Twitter pretty often. I’m just not sure that the whole tweeting thing is for me. There’s no one I would want to “follow,” in fact, I think it may serve as an ego booster since you can now base your popularity off the number of followers you can get on a social media page. That’s my point, I guess. The average person can have a blog or a twitter and they can write and say things that people find funny or interesting. And that person’s confidence would likely grow or diminish by the number of followers or readers they have. It’s nice, in a way. The average person has such a huge opportunity to feel like a bigger part in this world, but I feel nostalgia for a more simple period. A period where a writer wrote something and the merit wasn’t placed in the number of readers. Perhaps there is a flaw in my thinking, since even then, things were based off profit and the number of papers or books bought. My point is that I think there is a false confidence in these social medias at times. A side note to my side note about Twitter, I actually respect the creator a huge amount. Recent article in Vanity Fair, worth checking out.

 I guess, it seemed more simple when I could just write something. When I didn’t have to include pictures to entice a reader. Maybe someone will see this picture of my man, Jack, and be tricked into reading some blog about jobs? Jobs have nothing to do with Jack Johnson! Just listen to the song and that will make it a little better…The thing is, I just would like to walk into an office and ask for a job, not because I have a meeting set up, not because the editor liked my work, but because I am an unemployed college grad that really loves the work their company does…

The thing is, falling apart in life is a regular thing in ways. We act like it’s not when it happens. Because everything really is that awful. And we acknowledge that things will get better, but we want that right this second. And, no, no one understands. How could they? There are only how many people in the world that have the exact same problems as you, and you think you are alone? Not everyone can rationalize these feelings to the point that they disappear.

In Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five, he always says, “listen..” as if the reader isn’t paying attention. They probably aren’t, but listen: it’ll be alright and I will too. Just have some faith.

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