the leap of faith

August 30, 2007 at 3:23 am (Uncategorized)

          “Perceived risk. Actual risk. Can someone tell me a difference?”

Jeremy P. the slouchy-looking spiky-haired young man from the YMCA asked us. He had a discernable lisp that made his words sound windy and strangely magical. I noticed that he was the same guy as last year and I wondered what he was still doing here in this place; he had to be in his late twenties, and apart of me felt as though he belonged elsewhere, yet I could not imagine him anywhere besides the wilderness. Anyway, he went on and on about the difference between actual risk and perceived risk. I wanted to raise my hand and say that there could never be a difference, and they were one and the same. But I was not in literature class, and so my voice didn’t matter out here, out here within the trees – I could not interfere with their call, and I didn’t want to.

The older I grow, the more I realize that people do not understand me; I realize that I speak in metaphors, and I can never say what I mean, but I can’t change the way I am. My thoughts swayed back and forth, as I watched Jeremy hold up his hands and cup them together in the shape of a distorted heart.

“If this is comfort zone…Then I want you to expand it,” and he waved his hands in the air as though he was swatting a fly. “But everything here is challenge of choice, of course. Does anyone know what that means?” And someone gave him a definition, for which he was clearly impressed. Challenge by choice. Challenge by choice. I thought about how these words applied to my life and I began to shrink back in time, eons back in time, to when I was a child and how I chose nothing…How do I know that I am not doing the same thing now?

“But one thing to keep in my mind, we don’t want that comfort zone to explode!” I imagined my insides bursting with fear and sadness and a lifetime of unrequited love. On an unconscious level, I wanted to jump because I didn’t care anymore, I just didn’t care. I was tired, and like Bigger Thomas (from Native Son) or Sethe (from Beloved) I too wanted to declare to myself and the world that I was alive and breathing. I wanted to make my existence known and heard and understood. But at the time when Jeremy was speaking I didn’t want to jump. It was a fear that I perceived as unconquerable. I accepted it.

He took us around the rope course and there were three – the Leap of Faith included. As he explained the safety issues and other things, my heart leapt up in utter fear. I could not control the outrage of my poor flesh. Apart of me wanted to try, I wanted to fly, but the other part of me was plastered to the cold, muddy ground. All my staff members were asking me whether I was going to do it, and the weaker half of me always won, and I would say – no, I am afraid of heights or I get nauseous or my arm wasn’t in good shape — anything I could make up, but I could always feel that other part of me – the audacious part — inch up my spine. I wanted it. I wanted it. Would—I—win?

Even the nice Australian guy was asking me too many questions – why not, try? Why can’t the world just leave me alone! He was fairly attractive looking and I my heart melted when he when he said my name — Annngela, will ya give it a’go? Will ya give it a’go? I didn’t give know his name, but he was sweet and blonde and freckled faced. Will you come with me? Do I have to go alone? Come with me…So, hours passed and I still thought about the Leap of Faith. I tried another less difficult course – still 30 ft in the air – and I got a battle scar on my chest, but still, I thought about The Leap. I thought about the sweet blonde guy with the crooked teeth– I wanted him to see me up there, so high and free. Time was running out, and I walked over to him again, he asked one last time. I looked to my friend Stephanie and then to my other friend Vanessa and they encouraged me to do it. Like it was the simplest thing in the world to jump 35 feet into midair. Midair.

“I’ll do it,” I said to the sweet blonde guy. He smiled for the first time that day and I loved how his blue eyes danced and twirled and flew. There was a whirlpool of endless fervor and passion within in them. I wanted to save a mental picture of those eyes, they were emblazed with a wonderful glaze of fire and ice.

“So, you’ll give it a’go?

“Yea.” I looked into his eyes, and we both smiled. He seemed to see right through me; he saw all the hurt and maimed parts, and I felt as though he discovered something that I didn’t want him to know. What’s your name? What’s your name? I wanted to ask, but was too shy to say anything without a reason for doing so. As he strapped me in the suit everyone was watching me. I wasn’t too nervous, but I wasn’t too calm either. I climbed up the ladder and then up the tree. Thirty-five feet. People shouted below me. “You’re my hero,” one person said. “You’re my inspiration…” My question is: why do people only say nice things like this

when you’re about to jump of a cliff? No – we don’t give enough compliments, we sure don’t. The climb was easy and I remember thinking that I needed to get up there and jump, jump for everyone who struggles like I do. Jump for life. Jump for freedom. Jump for the sake of it! For nothing! I no longer wanted to be on the ground any longer. I knew I needed to try. I needed to try.

When I swung around the tree and reached the platform, I tried not to look down. I saw all fifty people down there shouting things I couldn’t decipher, for my mind was elsewhere. I tried to follow my thoughts, only to find that lead nowhere. Here I was, thirty-five feet in the air, but I was happy to finally reach the top of somewhere. I finally reached the top of the mountain of time! How amazing did it did feel! “Put your toils (he meant toes) to the edge!” The blonde shouted from below. I feared being seen up there. I didn’t want anyone to see me, but I inched forward and put my feet upon the edge.

“Count to three and then jump!” I didn’t want to. I was so afraid that I would die. I could feel death’s cold shadow linger behind me and my blood turned cold. I looked death face to face and I didn’t like it. But then I saw the warm blue sky above me and I was reassured.

“Oh LORD help me! OH Lord help me!” I shouted. The people below, nothing more than tiny specks, laughed and chuckled as though I was apart of some stupid games how. I touched my neck, but then realized that my necklace was missing, Oh, Lord are you still with me? Then, I thought about the Australian guy down below and smiled, he was holding my life in his hands –  I imagined his bright blue eyes and how they swayed and fluttered like the autumn wind and then I began to count.

“Okay, ONE, TWO…….THREE…” And then I jumped. I jumped! It was 10 seconds, maybe more or less, I am not sure, but it was 10 seconds of complete bliss and wonder. I can’t really describe the moment, I can only say that I felt more alive than ever. My eyes were sparked within inky splotches of an unknown color. I didn’t know who I was anymore. I was a new me. I liked it. My daddy would be proud of me. When I touched the ground and took off the helmet and suit, I did so with reluctance. I wondered why it took me so long to get up there. I flew. Yes — I flew!

I won.

Permalink 2 Comments

the leap!

August 29, 2007 at 4:38 am (Uncategorized)

Yesterday, I conquered my fear!!! I took a risk. And now I feel like I have done something to change – to change my life and the way I see the world. During Camp, a YMCA-type place that they take us to bond and socialize and all that good stuff — there was a high ropes course, and I jumped off from 35 ft!! I know, if you knew me, you would never believe it. For the first time in my life – I was flying. For the first time, I knew what it felt like to be free. 

I knew. I wanted to jump again and again. I longed for that transitory moment of clarity and satiety and light the colors of rainbows and spring flowers.           

I will write a jump-report tomorrow, because its been a long day and I am too tired right now to do so.  

Taking risks

To laugh is to risk appearing the fool/
To weep is to risk being called sentimental/
To reach out to another is to risk involvement/
To expose feelings is to risk showing your true self/
To place your ideas and your dreams before the crowd is to risk being called/ naïve/
To love is to risk not being loved in return/
To live is to risk dying/
To hope is to risk despair and,/
To try is to risk failure/
But risks must be taken/
The greatest risk in life is to risk nothing/
The person who risks nothing… does nothing, has nothing, and becomes/ nothing/
He may avoid suffering and sorrow/
But he simply cannot learn and feel and change and grow and love and live/
Chained by his servitude, he is a slave/
He has forfeited his freedom/
Only the person who risks is truly free. —William Arthur Ward  

This poem is my inspiration for why I did it.

Permalink 3 Comments

i need to write more and so I am

August 27, 2007 at 2:57 am (Uncategorized)

          This is most I have gone without reading in awhile and to tell you the truth – I don’t like it and it hurts. There I feel better. It hurts and I feel useless. I have yet to finish Sister Carrie, and I don’t think I will even finish that before the semester begins. I am trying to be realistic here.          

Ever since I have been back at school, I have had barely any time to read or write or express myself. Why? I have these meaningless sessions all day long and the rest of the time is spent bonding and eating horrible, plastic-tasting food and doing nothing really. I hate wasting time and that’s all I feel like I am doing here. Wasting time. Time, time, time, I can hear the click of the clock in my mind – LIVE!! My mind tells me again and again, but sadly I feel stuck here. I need to move, I need to be free and I need to fly. Where can I fly to? ***

Apart of me can’t wait to get out of school, but then the other part of me wonders what I will do when I get out – what will I do? I have decided that I will apply to a few graduate schools and see what happens. I have been having a back and forth battle with myself about this issue and I feel like no one – no one — can help me with this. No one has an answer for me, and no one seems to understand what I am going through either. Not my mother, not my friends, not my teachers, no one. I met with Dr. W this week since I was on campus and it was really nice to see her! Dr W is one of the professors (along with Hobgoblin, of course!) who has piqued my interest in American literature, especially women’s literature. She has a wonderful way of connecting with the students and she really makes us challenge the way we lead our own lives. She herself is a symbol for freedom and satiety and hope and I long to be able to teach like her. Although, sometimes I think she doesn’t like me, she doesn’t like the way I am, but the sad part is that she doesn’t know or understand anything about me, but then that’s another story…

Anyway, I met with her and I thought she was going to tell me what to do, but then she ended up telling me her entire life story and how she studied in Canada and then transferred to another school and how she took a year off and so on and so on — and she didn’t help me at all. What should I do Dr W? Oh, Tell me what I should do. I left her office with a brooding sense of emptiness that I can’t really express. I thought she cared and wanted to help me, but she seemed to keep her lips sealed; it was like she held all the answers in her hand, and wouldn’t release any of them. But then I remembered what she told me a few weeks after she knew me and I smiled. I knew what I had to do. I knew. I feel like failing is something I have to get used to – I need to learn that failing is apart of life and I need to accept it. I may fail and I may be rejected. Rejected. How can one reject another individual from learning??? How horrible does this sound? Doesn’t each and every individual have the right to learn to the furthest degree possible?  

But I looked deep within myself and discovered that I need to try. I need to try. Yes – I need to try. I need to try for him. I need to live out what he wanted for me. I can’t let him down. He might not be here mentally, but his words still light up my heart and I can’t deny that they are there. they will always be there. If I fail, he would take his cigar from his mouth, look into my eyes, and say, well, Mouse, try againOh, Mouse, you can never fail, you – you work too hard…You are the most hard working person I know…I want to cry whenever he used to say things like this. I would hold back my onslaught of tears, but I could see that his eyes were watery too and my heart cringed. I wondered why he wanted so much for me — me. me. me. me. He would look off into the distance and I would listen to the murmur of the crickets and their wonderful chant of yearning and magic.

Can I sing with you? Oh, Daddy can I sing with you? Can we listen to Bruce Springsteen and Bob Seger and Kenny Rogers and Neil Diamond together and blast the music from the basement like we used to? “We have been traveling in fog, without a home, but not without a star, free, the only one to be free, we huddled close…to hang onto a dream, on the boats and the planes, We’re coming to America…we’re coming to America…never looking back again…Every time that flags unfurl…gotta a dream to take them there. got a dream they come to share…they comin to America…they comin to America…today…today…today…of thee I see…today…today” – what a wonderful ring of words!

I will be able to teach my children about hard work, because he taught me. He taught me how to read and how to write and how to think and how to wonder and imagine. He was my teacher. For these things, I am forever indebted.  There I feel a lot better, writing what I feel is a therapy for me. Writing is my only means of unleashing what exists inside. What I feel like talking about, but never reaches my lips. So here’s my heart, world – be careful with it.

Permalink 3 Comments

The disastrous move-in

August 27, 2007 at 1:48 am (Uncategorized)

           As my mother pulled up to my apartment complex, my insides turned and did somersaults. I finally reached my own place. A place of my own. I smiled in a hesitant mixture of relief and sadness. I didn’t want to leave my mother, no – I hate leaving her, but I knew she would want me to go and be free. Be as free as I could be. Oh, Mamma I want you to be free too. How can I help you to be free? Can you be free too?           

As I turned in the key into the room, a bolt of excitement raced up my spine. I had trouble getting the door open, and I called my little sister for help, and as she struggled with the key I surveyed my surroundings. A bunch of strange looking red and blue wires poured out from the corner of the ceiling, and a swarm of gnats hovered near the old light fixture that looked as if something giant and black had died in it. I tried to smile, yet I wasn’t quite sure how I felt.           

As I stepped in a musty, heavy, stale scent sifted and circled through the air and seemed to trap me – I felt as though I was entering a gigantic old lunchbox that hadn’t been opened in one or two years. I tried not to breathe, I tried not to inhale the toxic that seemed to poison the air within — and as soon as I saw the dead scores of ants on the floor, I wanted to die. Yes, drop down right there and then. I am not kidding — there were dead bugs scattered in every corner and in every direction! Dead ants, dead beetles, dead flies, name any bug you can imagine and it had to be there, sitting there so helplessly…I didn’t know what to do or where to turn. Outside the window I faced a broken down gas station and a bunch of sketchy looking penny shops, yet a promising looking pizzeria shop. Perhaps I am exaggerating a little bit, but for the most part I am being truthful.  

I suddenly felt was stuck in time and I didn’t know what to do. Once my mother saw the apartment, she almost had a seizure, and even though she didn’t say anything I could tell that she was upset. A flame of redness colored her cheeks and I could detect a discernable sadness there, something that not even I could touch. I was afraid. Mamma, don’t be sad…don’t yell, don’t make this worse than it has to be…But of course she had to break down and yell and scream and yell some more…         

“Angela! There’s now way your living here!!! OUT!!!…” And she went on and on about why I couldn’t live in another building and why I was placed here. She mumbled different phrases in Italian, but I knew what they meant, things I will not share here…Even though, I told her again and again that there was nothing I could do, nothing—she still continued to ask, Can you move to another room? And then again 10 seconds later. Can you move to another room? No, mom, no I cannot move for the hundred time! I am stationed here and I am the person in charge!         

Who can we talk to? I don’t know mom, I am the person in charge of this building…I don’t think I have ever seen my mother that angry in all my life, that woman carries so much weight and sometimes I think she’s going to break down and cry and cry and cry sometimes. Apart of me wanted to cry with her, I wanted to yell and scream too – but I held in my internal ache, as I let her scream and attack me with her words. ANGELA!!! Why! I wanted to console her but then I didn’t know what to say. I never know what to say to her to make her see. Mama, mama, mama, I know you want the best for me, but you have to accept this…         So we called this person and that person and finally found out that the cleaning crew had left, and that we had to wait until tomorrow. My mother was furious, Can’t you switch rooms!? She continued to chant with a resonant fury in her eyes. Those eyes that always seemed so warm and cheerful were now grey puddles of mush. I thought about how I was ever going to make this place look like home. Home. It was cold and strange and it smelled like a bologna sandwich that hadn’t been touched in too many weeks to count.            

Well, the next morning the room was cleaned although my things and my poor books were scattered all about the building. The first thing I unpacked were my books of course, and then I arranged them on a new book shelf that another librarian gave to me (it’s amazing!). As I did so, I scanned the titles of the books I read and those that I had not – and wondered how my life would be without books, without books. I didn’t want to think about it, but I wondered how much emptier and alone I would be, for they tell me again and again that I can do what I want – all of these authors tell me that we are human beings who all yearn to attain – yearn to attain something more in life. They scream, listen to me! Listen to me! 

I’m listening, I’m listening — I will always listen.   

Permalink Leave a Comment

fun

August 25, 2007 at 5:41 pm (Uncategorized)

Here is an exercise I did during RA training, and I wanted to share it. Try it if you would like! It is simple and fun.  

What bugs me:

Stupid TV shows (mostly all, actually), pessimistic people who look down/talk down to you, those who hate to write or read (especially read!!!), group projects, standardize testing, those who hate bread, those who refuse to eat after 7 pm. (who sets this nutritional guideline anyway?), those who cage birds, those who lead their lives in “quiet desperation”…. 

You should know that:

I love literature, words, and reading. I love, yes absolutely love all libraries – I could spend all my days there. I like to complain and complain and complain, not to resolve, but just for the sake of complaining; I like to randomly quote from poetry and books in my everyday life Let us come you and I, when the evening is spread out against the sky, is something I say often – just because I love the ring of the words. I love bread and hazelnut coffee.  

If I could I would:Publish a book; read every book ever written; make sure every individual has the ability to write and read. But most importantly, the ability to write – the power of the pen is something that is beyond all that we call human.

Permalink 1 Comment

i miss you

August 22, 2007 at 9:18 pm (Uncategorized)

        

I miss you…

     p.jpg     So I returned today from one long trip with my family. I say family, but one person is missing and so I don’t really know what I would call us. Family? Family. Family. I don’t know, but I always feel guilty, I live in an inky shroud of guilt sometimes, and so vacation is something that I do not heartily accept at this point in my life. But for the sake of this post I will call it a vacation.         

It rained the entire time! Usually, we have good luck with the weather, but this past weekend, it was just cold and gloomy and grey. Just grey. Grey. But I realized that all I wanted was to be with the people who I love. The people who see who I really am. The people who laugh at my stupid jokes that are just funny because of their stupidity. The people who need me. The people who make me feel like I’m worth something.  There’s nothing better than making them laugh – no there’s nothing quite better than that. For a few days, I lived in a new state, I was me. I was me. It felt so good. I realized a few things about life. Things I needed to change, and things that I wanted to change and things that would always be the way they were. Things that would always be the same. The same old same old. *** 

My brother and sisters and I were together for the first time and apart of me didn’t want this time to come to an end. But there is always that void – that void that lies within all of us — that lurks in the shadows and comes out and bites us when we least expect it. We would be telling tales of the past, and his cloudy memory was always there, because he was always there. Then we would change the subject or we would let the empty silence hang and poison and dispel all that existed near. We would let it hang there! Even my mother just turned away as though nothing was even said. I, more than anyone — hated it.  As we sat around the dinner table, I imagined him sitting there with his NBC sports cap and that wonderful grin of his, and how he used to look at my mother and oh, just so many things….I loved your mother the first time I saw her…I knew I was going to marry her….

As much as I try to hide and flee, those thoughts are always there – always there. His curly, thick hair that always reminded me of Bruce Springsteen’s, the cigar marks on his teeth, the rough stubble of his mustache, the faint russet hue of his cheeks, and the deep hue of his golden, tawny skin. The smell of peppermint and tobacco that he always carried. The flame of fire that once sparked his dark eyes in the shape of almonds. I always imagined two moons there – two moons mixed with the wonder of starlight and the misty halo of night sky – his eyes were like leaves in autumn, beautiful, yet elusive and sad. It was all there, he was still there, I could still hear the sound of his voice, as though he sat next to me. I could hear it – that faint melody of words and song and magic. “Oh, leave Angela alone” – he used to defend me in face of my unruly and unsympathetic brother and sister. Leave her alone…I wished his voice would go away but then I didn’t want it to. I wanted to listen to him, the only person who would ever understand me. I know that we are the same person. We fought the battle of life in the same way – except his was much more difficult than mine. I didn’t have anyone telling me that I was nothing and I couldn’t do anything…

But on the ride there and the ride back, I thought it strange that my brother was reading the directions instead of my father. I didn’t like it. I didn’t like it.  

Nevertheless, despite all of this emotional turmoil, we had a good time. We had a great time. My little sister spilt my bowl of Fruit Loops on me on the way home. I got sick after I ate at least twenty candy bars on the way back–hey we were in Hershey town! I almost beat my brother in Mini Golf and my mother smiled for the first time in a long time. I had that power. My sister told me that she would miss me when I went off to school, she missed the laughter that I brought to her life. I wanted to tell her, that I missed her laughter too – the way she laughed when no one else would.  

It just hurt to have reality sink in again. It hurt to know that things may never change. That that empty pitiless space may always be there. The living dead….oh, Lord! Please help us, Amen.                    

Permalink Leave a Comment

vacation, finally.

August 19, 2007 at 10:37 am (Uncategorized)

I will be on vacation until next Wednesday and then I will post about it then. I am going to Hershey Park, and it should be really fun, I hope.

Permalink 2 Comments

untitled

August 16, 2007 at 10:10 pm (Uncategorized)

          Ever since I was a child, I have been a horrible test taker, and my suspicions were confirmed once again today. I am a horrible test taker. There, I feel a lot better.

But in this world, sadly, weakness is not tolerated, and I wonder if it is worth trying for anything at all. Every time I get my hopes for something – well, let’s just say that it never works out the way I want it to –I always end up sad and resigned. What’s the use to bother?

As much as I read, I thought I would do really well on the GRE, but I did mediocre. My cousin works at the Kaplan center nearby and he was able to give me a sample-practice test for free, for which I did poorly, for my standards anyway. I just kept thinking, my intelligence can never be measured in a simple 2 and a half hours. As I watched him send my score card through the machine, I thought about how useless this all was. I thought about all the papers I wrote the past year – Beloved, The Scarlet Letter, Ethan Frome — and I thought do they even matter? Does anyone even care? Can everyone write like that? Why do I feel like all my efforts mean nothing in comparison to this score? A score that proves nothing…          

It wouldn’t matter if I read all the books in the world — I would still do poorly, simply because my mind is not wired for this type of thing. I don’t really know what to do – is it worth even applying anymore? I don’t know how much these tests are taken in account, but it’s just not fair. I’m tired of living and failing. I know I should rise, but apart of me is just through with all of it. I’ve been preparing for the test, especially the verbal, since the beginning of the summer, and it didn’t amount to more than a poor score.           

When will this system of testing change? The problem is intrinsic in this statement, it is a “system,” and like any other, and it will continue to oppress and limit and label those of us who have a drive to seek something in life, and fall short of what is needed. Just when I thought my dream was in my grasp, it was taken away from me again, and I fear its reach, its unattainable height.          

I’m sorry if this is depressing, but this is how I feel, what I was afraid of feeling, and now feel. It is a hurt that no one can see or touch, but it is undeniably there, and I am tired of the internal ache.

Permalink 4 Comments

willie, willie, willie…

August 14, 2007 at 4:30 pm (Uncategorized)

library1.jpg          For some reason, ever since I wrote that Feel Good Meme about myself, I have been more willing to write down the compliments I receive, just because it brightens my day and makes me feel good. Okay, so here it goes. Please comment if you would like. I like feedback on my writing. ***

Every Friday at a quarter to five, he parks his blue 1986 Chevrolet in the fire-lane and warmly greets all the circulation staff at the front desk. It’s Willie! Willie.  I don’t want to leave the library, simply because I live for this moment. Friday afternoons. The buttery scent of popcorn mixed with the scent of books and… Willie!

“Why. Hello there ladies! How ya all doin’ today? How’ya doin’? ” I look up from the mountain of children’s picture books that I am checking-in at the side terminal, and smile at him. He returns the smile as he empties the trash can nearby. He wants to say something, but then doesn’t.

“Hello WILLIE!” We all say in unison. It sounds like a wonderful, rhythmic chant. Willie, Willie, Willie…He brings a smile to even the meanest lady’s face.

Willie is an older, gaunt man who has a slight stoop when he walks, as though his back is crooked and he has spent his entirety trying — desperately trying — to straighten it. I say old but I wouldn’t ordinarily call him that. He seems so young and I can’t really say why. He has dark, almost black skin, and he wears this blue-checkered-cowboy-looking shirt and a baseball cap that does a poor job of hiding the white threads of hair that escape from beneath. I have never seen him without his hat. 

As he chases people out the library as the clock strikes 5 o’clock, he comes over to chat with me. I tell him about my summer and school and that time we lost power in our house for three days and how it was the longest three days of my life. “Oh, I remember that,” he said, reflectively. He can’t seem to look at me without smiling. It makes me feel good.

“You know, this summer, hasn’t worked out the way I planned,” and on and on I went about meaningless trifles. When all else fails, I talk about meaningless trifles. But, still he listened – he listened — and it seemed as though it was most interesting thing he heard all day. He reminded me of Beckford and Hall M and his Securitas jacket and strawberry ice cream. I was sad.

But after I had my say, which didn’t amount to anything at all, he held up his hand and his golden wedding band glimmered in the overhead light. I smiled and I could feel the fire swell up in my cheeks. Sometimes, I wish they were pale – I hate that red russet hue that is always there and never leaves me alone… I don’t remember what he said and I would be a fool to try to make something up, but memory is selective as you know, so I will tell you what I remember.

“You are wise…No — you are wise—,” he seemed to turn these words over in his mind, as though he was deciding his fate, a fate that was always decided and predetermined and set.

“You are wise and pretty and smart girl,” I tried not to blush, for I hate getting compliments of this nature, but I just shrugged as though to brush these things off, and forced a smile.

I changed the subject, as swiftly and deftly as possible, because that’s what I do best: “Yea, well it’s sad because I’m leaving next week.” He lost all expression in his face, and all I could detect was that unwavering, yet sad sparkle in his eyes. Don’t be sad, don’t be sad…Please don’t frown…

“Well… you will come back, right? I mean during winter and spring break, right?” He seemed to be afraid, as though he was retreating from some force that was unknown to him. I was about to interject, but he wouldn’t let me. He stood there and I listened. I tried to focus upon a distinct object above his head.

 “This place needs you. This place needs you.”

Me? Me? Really?

He smiled then, and his perfect white teeth shined. He has that smile, that wonderful grin that hides and conceals all that churns and toils within, I know it too well. His black eyes drooped and sagged. He has the eyes of someone who has been hurt in an indefinable way. His eyes are always leaden with invisible tears. Tears and fear. Tears and fear, the worst combination… Too much like Poppi’s, too much like…I don’t know.  

It was like this gigantic boundary had erupted between us and there was no longer anything in between, nothing except fire and ice and sky. Except the sky wasn’t blue, but a sad, lusterless hue of grey and raindrops. Grey. Grey. Grey.

Twilight, maybe. Twilight, could it be?  

“You brighten this place up when you are here. You do,” I nodded my head in disbelief, but he wouldn’t let me be like that. “You do.” I saw a great expanse of blue sky open up before me and I didn’t know what to do. I was hanging along the edges to some unknown thread, and I wanted the wind to take me to some faraway place in which no one knew me. That’s where I wanted to be. I only wanted to be.

For that brief transitory moment, I was at peace with the world. I was happy. I felt like my father’s star again. ***

Thanks Willie, my friend.

Willie, Willie, Willie – what a wonderful song!

Permalink 2 Comments

the end and beginning…

August 11, 2007 at 11:31 pm (Uncategorized)

sister-carrie.jpg“How true is it that words are but vague shadows of the volumes that we mean. Little audible links, they are, chaining together great inaudible feelings and purposes. Here were these two, bandying little phrases, drawing purses, looking at cards, and both unconscious of how inarticulate all their real feelings were” (Dreiser 12).       

I finished The Bell Jar the other day, and yes the ending was as depressing as I expected. I mean by the denouement, she is about to attend an interview and free herself from the asylum, but she also alludes to her inevitable demise within the closing pages –

“But I wasn’t sure. I wasn’t sure at all. How did I know that someday – at college, in Europe, somewhere, anywhere – the bell jar, with its stifling distortions, wouldn’t descend?”

 Thus, I think Plath’s life resembles this very fact, and what is sad is to think of all she could have written if she lived her life to the full extent. After reading The Bell Jar, I want to read more of her — but I have nothing more than a slim volume of The Bell Jar and her book of poems Ariel – can this be enough?

“I am I am I am” She continually has to reassure herself that she is still alive, that she too is breathing, she must listen to the rhythmic internal chant, which only drives her to a further state of insanity. But this is all we are left with. How can this be all that remains of a woman who had so much power internal and external in the world?  

While I was reading Black Boy, Wright comments on how he was reading Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser. Now being one of Wright’s biggest fans, I picked up my own copy and began reading it yesterday. Now I have not read anything by Dreiser before, and it sad that I haven’t because I love his style and the methodic ring of his words. How beautiful! Is all I can say. I think I know why Wright loved him so much and so do I. I love Dreiser! J          

The beginning of the novel reminds me of the beginning of Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth because they both take place in a train terminal, hence alluding to the heavy chains of capitalism and materialistic defeat. Selden meets Lily, just as Drouet meets Carrie. Both men are surrounded by a “desultory air” and both are rather skeptical, and almost anatomical in a way – they want to figure the heroine out – they immediately want to brand and label but paradoxically, Selden and Drouet can never place a label or title on either female — they both defy the codes of convention and “commonness.”

Are Wharton and Dreiser driving at the same point? What could they be saying? Let’s see…Maybe that these women – which both appear lost and alone — are looking for a man – a well respected men of course – to rescue them and take them faraway from all that is unknown and frightening. But in the end the man does not have the power to save them – they must first save themselves, they must first save who they are – who they are – men present them with a taste of a new freedom, and as wonderful as that it is, perhaps the yearning for internal freedom is always greater, and that is what needs to be sought first.          

Now, I am far from finishing Sister Carrie, but if I can predict the ending, I would adhere to what Wharton would probably say: that Sister Carrie will be alone and that Drouet, who loves her, leaves her to resume his old life of trifles and conventionality. Doesn’t this seem to the the unwritten code for all novels written during the 18th and 19th century? Codes and conventionality

vie against all else, and it makes me sick….True love is never true when equality is not established, and when Carrie is with Drouet we can see the chains of inferiority that fester in her soul. I mean I don’t like to consider myself a completely pessimistic person, but we’ll see. I guess you can say I am a Wharton adherent. I will let you know when I finish if I am right!

Will society defeat Carrie? That is the question of the day.              

Permalink 1 Comment

Next page »