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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Word of the Day, vol. III

Word of the Day: WRITING
Sometimes I forget how important writing has been to me for most of my life. I remember sitting at my mom’s computer at as young as six years old and typing out sentences and the beginnings of stories.

The middle school I attended was called Mark Twain Intermediate School for the Gifted and Talented (HA!) and we had to test and audition to get in, even though it was a public school. It’s funny but I didn’t even think of auditioning for the drama program. Instead, I tried out for dance and creative writing. I was dancing three times a week at that point, if any of you can believe it, but they ended up placing me in the creative writing “major.” And I spent three years writing everything from a sitcom script to a horror story, from a newspaper article to a historical fiction text. It was actually pretty great training, even though our teacher was a nightmare and seriously scary-looking. Ms. Friedman. We were all sure she was actually a man. I wonder whatever happened to him/her.

Anyway, I started keeping a journal pretty consistently the winter before I moved to California. Here is my first entry:

Wow! 1997! It’s not really unbelievable though. I just finished my HW. I had a huge-ass load of math. She always gives us so much! I have the second half of a Science test tomorrow, but I’m not worried about it because the 1st ½ wasn’t that bad. AVERAGE. That’s all I am. Average. BORING is another word for that. I am and always will be an AVERAGE girl. What does “average” mean anyway? How can someone be AVERAGE? Isn’t everyone supposed to be different? No one is the same as anyone else and that’s what “average” means.
God, you know what, SCHOOL SUCKS! It really does! It takes up too much time and it’s not fun enough. School should be one constant educational game.

Don’t you just want to hug her and tell her everything is going to be OK? I reread that today and think…did I really think I was average? I’m not sure how long that lasted, but it seems a little bit like I was feeling sorry for myself for the sake of feeling sorry for myself.

I’ve filled five journals, spanning from January 1997 to May 2005, right before I graduated from college. I used to reread them pretty regularly. Now, I’m not sure why. Self-torture? Revisiting them tonight, I was very uncomfortable. I was going to type out some entries:
My last summer at the camp I attended for seven years (after weeks of complaining about feeling left out, I ended up writing it had been the best of all seven years);
My first day of high school (I feared everyone would be a snob);
When I got my driver’s license on my 16th birthday (I passed by four points…shhhh);
The love letters I passed back and forth to the boys I liked in high school;
The night I got news that my mother’s father had died;
The last night I spent in my house before moving to Berkeley.

I couldn’t bring myself to actually retype them and post them on the web. Even though I’m sure that that writing kept me sane through the move to California, got me through high school, always seemed a safe haven during the heartbreak and joys of college.

I began to journal less often when I moved into Apartment 8. Because then I began writing poems and songs. I spent the entire summer of 2004 as a songwriter, with S’s brother my co-writer and musician. This is the song I started writing on a walk and had to run home so I could get it down on paper:


We turn away from what we know is real,
Disregarding all we truly feel.
We throw our instincts clear out the window,
Calling those closest to us our foes.

Truths leave us frightened or maybe it’s alone.
We avoid that to which we know we’re prone.
Our vocabulary shrinks every day
Because there are no words to say.

Stagnantly stumbling in circles,
We forget exactly what was said.
We can’t even see each other.
We look around instead of ahead.

Our eyes met once but we closed them fast.
Now we prefer to keep them downcast.
We put ourselves in the apparent dark to grope
For what we think will someday be called hope.

Breathing side by side but separate,
We know the future cannot be this desolate.
But still we stay a safe distance apart—
Never fully listening to our hearts.


Linger here a little bit too long.
Something inside us thinks this would be wrong.
Simply afraid to just jump right in,
Afraid the veil between us too thin.

Careful not to tip the scales too much,
But doing so we never really touch.
Confront each other with a velvet glove,
Hate is not the opposite of love.


I was pretty proud of myself at the time, but even it seems like it was written by someone who was very young.

In contrast, I realized I was a woman when I wrote this poem after I ran away to Reno for a night with S and our other friend:

Thoughts Mid-Flight

I need a distraction from this destruction.
Gotta take a van and just fucking drive.
Leave the rubble behind to lie under a tree,
Hum a song in the grass and chase the sun.

I ran away from you and sought solace with a drink,
Cleared my mind and tried to gamble us away.
All I needed was to dance in a storm,
But all I did was smoke a cigarette at noon.

We’re good at pretending nothing’s wrong.
It takes 400 miles for me to get angry.
Had to wail along with Janis to breathe again.
Laughed with a weight on my shoulders.

We drive and I’m not sure I know you anymore.
So I sing at the top of my lungs and dance on a hill.
Stars above and I am home again.
Who knows how long I’ve loved you?

I started writing essays and reviews in New York. Most of them are posted on this blog. In fact, I started this blog because I was writing all these essays and my friend M suggested I put them online. This is the first one I wrote, and I posted it here with my brother’s blessing. I carried a small notebook at all times, so I could mark down interesting things I’d hear or weird scenes I’d see on the subway. The blog enhanced my awareness, forced my senses to be even more receptive. It was a creative outlet for me in a time that felt very stagnant.

I’ve always had big plans for my writing. I want to write my memoirs, a novel about a boy whose name just happens to be Jesus, a play about a family like mine, short stories about the people I see on the street…

My friend SL once gave me a gigantic book of blank pages. I asked him to inscribe it and he wrote, “If there is anyone I know who can and will fill up this entire book, it is you. Every page will be you and every page will be part of the whole. On page 564, I expect an entry of collaboration between you and me. Maybe pg. 90 or 120 or 1028. Today is May 18, 2005.

This book is now full of artistic pleasures. That day is _____ __, ____.”

It’s June 10, 2009. I’m on page 369…

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