Write it down and remember.
A month or so ago, an email came to my work inbox seeking volunteers to teach an advising/mentoring 101 class. Alone in my office, I looked around as if I was being watched. Maybe this was a prank. I hadn’t been interviewed yet to come back for the 2013-2014 academic year at the university, but I replied back: “I’m in. I just have to be rehired.” The one credit class for incoming freshmen designed to help them adjust to college life is the only class I remember from freshmen year, exactly ten years ago. How could I ignore this cyclical offering of the Universe?
Then last week, I got another email, this one confirming that I ‘d been chosen for one of the 101 slots, and also, stating my course abbreviation as “MT”. I considered asking for the abbreviation to be changed to “MPT” but thought twice. Once the general excitement faded, I was blindsided by the occurrence that I would have to do some planning. I would have to create a loose model for my theme: College is Not About the Classes. And I was immediately stumped. How does one go about teaching college freshmen about Life? Read more »
As a celebration for a year’s worth of work, and the arrival of summer, I organized a cookout for my staff of fourteen college students. In our last meeting prior to the shindig, I asked the group to help me make a list of items to buy for the grilling and the snacking.
“Chocolate chip cookies.”
“Hot dogs AND hamburgers.”
“Can we have a watermelon?”
I had been yelling “Yes!” and pointing like an auctioneer at each bidder, but at the mention of watermelon, I hesitated, just for a second. The student who’d asked for the watermelon was a white southern boy, raised just down the road from our small, private University in North Carolina. He was without a doubt, one of the most polite and respectful students I have ever encountered, and also one who was most proud of his southern roots. I knew that when he asked for a watermelon that he was only asking for a watermelon, and there was no underlying meaning in his question to me, his black supervisor. Still, I didn’t want to buy a watermelon. Read more »
You are having heart attack. This is what you say to yourself with your face pressed to the smooth wood grain of your desk. The signs are there: your left arm started hurting, followed by shortness of breath and finally the chest pains, radiating out or in, it doesn’t matter. You imagine there are red rings spreading in a wide circle away from your body, like a cartoonish diagram you saw in a doctor’s office. Pain is inspiring. The thoughts you’re having about the universe being so small and so large at the same time are brilliant. You could write a book, if you weren’t dying. Your mother would like that — a book with your name on the cover. She would tell everyone. She believes that you are going to accomplish so much. And you believed that too, before you started having this heart attack, and now you know all you’ve done until now is drift from man to man, from problem to problem to drinks. A drink would be perfect right now, anything cold and liquid, because you are sweating with effort. You don’t want to die, but your heart squeezes, insistent that you will. Of course you will die. You will die now hunched over your desk or you will die tomorrow when you make an illegal left turn and slam into an oncoming car or you will die quietly in your sleep. You will die. You will die. You’re saying it out loud to the empty office, the empty suite, the empty building. You will die. Your chest moves slower with each repetition: You. Will. Die. And then you laugh, the sound almost foreign to your ears. You laugh and you laugh. You laugh at the drool in a comic bubble coming from your mouth. You laugh because you are not dead. You laugh to laugh and to save yourself from crying. You laugh.
Save me, Hurley
The Mega Millions lottery in North Carolina has reached $475,000,000. Some of my coworkers started a pool for tickets. I bought my own, separate from the pool. While in line at the Quik Mart, I couldn’t help but sing, “If I had a million dollars I could buy your love.” If I had a million dollars, I would buy a billboard on I-40 & paint a short poem across the space, or maybe I would just put my favorite line from a Terrance Hayes poem, “Enough sky and a trail.” I would buy a treadmill & then I would take it to a field & destroy it like that scene in Office Space. If I had a million dollars, I would pay off my brother’s student loans, but not my own. All that money & yet, I would still feel the happiest on an open road in my 2007 Dodge Caliber, all the windows down. I still wouldn’t call my father. If I had a million dollars I would fly to Russia specifically to Moscow, because it’s Moscow. I still wouldn’t send birthday cards on time, if at all. I would hope the money wasn’t cursed like Hurley was cursed with 1.56 million dollars on the show Lost. Like Hurley, I would hope the money wouldn’t drive me insane or drive away everyone close to me.
I don’t know if I should blame the television show Lost or rapper Lil Wayne for my sudden Feminism. It would be like trying to guess which came first, the chicken or the egg, when the answer doesn’t really matter. The fact is, I am now, and do call myself a Feminist; this to the relief of many friends and family members who have been patiently waiting. Does this mean I will be burning my bras? No, they cost too much and that’s an old, antiquated image to associate with the Feminist movement. Does this mean I hate men? Hilarious. Of course, I love men as much as I always have. But I love women, too, and I am trying to love and support them more every day. I recognize that I am working through what it means to be a Feminist and that most days I am a baby in the manger when it comes to my own self-awareness.
When I started watching the show Lost on Netflix a few weeks ago, it was with a host of nostalgic feelings toward a series I’d started in undergrad but hadn’t finished. Now that Lost was over and years had passed I felt free to just enjoy it as pure entertainment and without the week-to-week stress of trying to anticipate what would come next. But that freedom quickly turned to criticism, mostly directed at the polar bear(s), but also at some very glaring statements about women. If you don’t know the show at all, I won’t even try to explain the entire plot, but the very basic premise is that a plane traveling from Sidney, Australia, to L.A. crashes on what appears to be a deserted tropical island and the survivors spend the rest of the series trying to get rescued.
Lilly Evangeline (as Kate Austen) and her skin
I had my feminist moment in season 1 episode 17: Kate, one of the most naturally attractive women I have ever seen, and Sawyer, a beautifully bronzed and offensive hick, come upon a pristine, private lagoon. After having spent at least 2 weeks on this island, having survived several bizarre coincidences this lagoon seems like a treat. They strip down to their skivvies… OH WAIT. No they don’t. Sawyer takes off his shirt, then bends over to take off both boots but keeps on his belted jeans. Meanwhile, Kate keeps on her thin shirt and takes off her pants. No worries, she’s wearing these cute little black underwear. And lucky for her, she has glowing skin and zero cellulite. I’m glad I was alone, because I was so overwhelmed by this obvious pandering to the straight male viewer, I was still sputtering when the pair comes upon two dead bodies submerged in the lagoon. Read more »
Slept out on a limb, too, did you, Star?
Then fell to the highway, stranded. I understand
you had to get away. I understand
why you’re on the road tonight.
Your milky-eyed companions –
they had a lot to say about you–
gossiping in your language of constellations:
grumblings of distant measurements, Read more »
Arching star dashed across the night sky landing without sound on the road ahead of you,
splitting itself cleanly in half . These two no-longer-wholes, each with an edge paper sharp, kept rolling –
in them the momentum of one thousand years – so instinct made you brake while also looking up
to your rear view mirror, to see what was about to hit you from behind. This is a kind of metaphor. Read more »
When a star falls across the night sky, and lands on the road in the front of you,
as you’re barreling down the highway at 75 miles per hour,
you can choose to take it as a sign. You can choose to do a lot of things,
like turn around and go back. Or keep going, right foot married
to the gas pedal. You can choose silence,
as much silence can be had over the hum of your bald tires, and the yowl
of the cat in the carrier. Or you can choose to turn up the radio Read more »
I remember this. I think.
I remember going to Medieval Times as a little girl, wearing a pointy hat with a stream of lace emerging from the top. I remember being scolded by a court jester for attempting to use a fork to eat my drumstick. I remember the smell of the horses during the jousting tournament. But these memories are false. In reality, I had a princess costume when I was 9 or 10 — a pink dress topped with a pink conical hat with lace coming from the top. I know because I’ve seen the picture. I think it was my mother who repeatedly told me to stop playing with my food, to pick it up and eat it. And the horses, I think I could always imagine the smell of horses.
Like the wide scope of History, memories are fickle in the way we reshape them to be better or worse than the reality they represent. Recently, I went with my boyfriend to the Arizona Renaissance Festival — set way outside Phoenix in an erected town. The twenty-five year-old (!) event goes on for several weekends and is taken very seriously by the locals, in a good way. We went on a busy day, and every other person was dressed in some get-up or another: corsets, thigh-high boots, lace, ruffles, men in tights, men in armor and wearing swords. Read more »
“Great Writers,” my mother says, “are vessels or conduits who are able to open themselves to stories and language outside of their own experience.” I believe this idea — that men can write truthfully and realistically about women, that a woman writer can capture the voice of a man, that any aspect of diversity can be accurately portrayed by a writer with empathy, sensitivity, and an eye for detail. I believe this, but I don’t want to be this kind of writer. I don’t want to be great.
Joyce Carol Oates is great. There is no denying her mastery of craft. In 2001, I picked up We Were the Mulvaney’s because it was still impressive to me when a book had Oprah’s book club seal on the front, and I was not disappointed. Even as a 16 year-old high school student, I could recognize a caliber of writing above most of the teen angst books I was reading at the time. And yet, I didn’t read another book by Oates again for years because every time I happened upon one, as I was drifting down the library aisle or reading reviews online, the overriding theme of tragedy in her books put me off. No, I don’t need a book with a happy ending – Kazou Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go has one of the saddest endings in a book I’ve read in a long time but I love it still. Nor am I opposed to a certain level of depravity, moral decay and perversity in writing, these are real facets of being human, the reality of what often lies beneath the surface and must be represented — But do I have to read about it? Read more »