up in the sky

October 31, 2007 at 12:43 am (Uncategorized)

Time passes. Things change. I don’t know what to do. Oh, lord what can do? Can I fly away? Can I look up into the sun and descend into the clouds and hope to never come back? How deep is the ocean? How long do we have here? What’s in the clouds? What makes birds sing?  

There is something in the sky that makes me smile. Something that warms my cheek and makes me happy. I can see me in the clouds. I can see me. I wonder how I got there. I wonder if I ran or walked. Perhaps, I did neither.  

I was alone floating amid the clouds, searching for something bright and majestic. I didn’t know what. The sky is so wide and deep and there are so many glass staircases. I don’t know which to climb. I walk up some stairs and down some. I never get anywhere. But I just kept moving. Moving. Up and down. Up and down. Left and right. Left and right. Up and down. Left and Right.  I don’t know where home is. I can’t find it anywhere.

I can’t find home. I don’t see it anywhere. All I see is more and more whiteness the color of untouched snow. More clouds and sky. No home. Only clouds and sky. It made me scared to see such things. Sky and clouds. I didn’t know what I wanted. I couldn’t see anything. All I could see was what was in my mind and none of that was good. Whiteness and warped faces. Mamma, how I missed you Mamma…Mamma don’t ever come here in the sky. Never come to this place.

Please….Please….Mamma, Mamma, I miss your soothing voice and the way you look at me when I do something wrong. I miss the way you look at the world. I miss the way you looked at daddy. I missed that. I missed the way you made me feel.  

If I came a little closer, if I walked a little further I wondered if I could see God. Would God speak to me? I wanted to see mother Mary, she would understand and she would take me within her hands and tell me all would be alright. But no Mary or God appeared anywhere. I was nowhere and yet everywhere.  I saw daddy and I wanted to run to him. I love you daddy. I will always love you. My father saw me and smiled. He was there too. He reached his hand out to me.

Oh, daddy, your back – you’re back! I ran to him then and gave him a giant bear hug like I used to. Don’t leave me, don’t leave me again…I laid my head against his large, warm chest and he kissed me on the head. I missed you…I missed you too Angela. I always miss you. Then he walked away. He walked away again. 

 No, no, no, no don’t go, daddy, don’t go, sit here and read with me…but he left. He always leaves.  

I looked for Mamma but she was gone. She was gone too. ***


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can you hear

October 29, 2007 at 11:28 pm (Uncategorized)

Do you hear that?  

I don’t know.

Do I hear what? 

Do you hear that? 

I don’t know.

I – I —

Can’t hear anything.  

Do you hear that?

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October 28, 2007 at 2:22 am (Uncategorized)

          I have been going through a strange period in my life, one in which mental exhaustion has taken over and left me with nothing but more and more books to read. I am giving myself a break and I don’t care what anyone says. I feel so sick.           

I was supposed to begin re-reading two novels this weekend, but I have yet to begin either of them. I don’t know why. I am having difficulty opening my backpack and doing anything at all. I have nothing to motivate me. I feel like my heart’s beating, I can hear its monotonous beat, but the sweet rhythm that I used to make my bones smile is gone. I have never felt so tired in my life. When I look in the mirror, I see purple-bluish bags under my eyes, and I wonder how they got there. Maybe they were always there.       

I spent my Saturday night reviewing meaningless math problems, and its making me wonder if I have paid attention to math at all in school– decimals, fractions, angles – obtuse, acute, complementary, supplementary…etc and etc. Who cares? What does it have anything to do with English? Why!  I have to take a five hour test tomorrow and I am not looking forward to it, but I have to pass it. If I don’t, then I don’t know what I will do. So, pray that I will. If all goes wrong, I know that I will be someday be a good teacher and that always makes me happy.  

Here’s a poem that I wrote and really liked: 

Something’s wrong.

Something’s wrong.

How do you know? 

Something’s wrong.

No light in the fire.

No leaves in the trees.

No Christmas in the air.

No little angels in the sky.

No children in stocking caps.

No yellow star flowers. 

 Something’s wrong.

Something’s wrong.

How do you know?

No rivers.

No song.

No dance.

No, no, no – it can’t be.

But it is – it is –

No, no, no…

The day is gone. 

How do you know?

“Mr. Max, a guy gets tired of being told what he can do and can’t do. You get a little job here and a little job there. You shine shoes, sweep streets; anything…You don’t make enough to live on. You don’t know when you going to get fired. Pretty soon you get so you can’t hope for nothing. You just keep moving all the time, doing what other folks say. You ain’t a man no more. You just work day in and day out so that the world can roll on and other people can live. You know, Mr. Max, I always think of white folks…” (Richard Wright, Native Son, 353)

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a horror story

October 26, 2007 at 10:23 pm (Uncategorized)

            I have never felt more violated in my life. It was like some evil creature had entered my soul and I couldn’t stop it from taking away all the goodness and sustenance in my world. He took it all away with one touch. 

         The night was solemn and gray. The chilly type of autumn night that you would find in the crinkled pages of a horror story, the kind of night that makes you sad to be alive. I saw the Securitas Officer standing there and I cringed. Leave me alone… 

I was getting out of my car, and there he stood. I couldn’t move. I was trapped and helpless and alone. Confirmed resignation… I don’t remember looking at him, hell I never look at anyone. But I do remember that horrible smirk which left my heart cold and gasping for air. The glistening of those white, too white teeth, and those frightening, formidable eyes — the color of smoky blackness and disease.  

He took my hand and kissed it. I could feel the touch linger for the rest of the night though. I felt like I was stung. I was so sad. I looked away and into the night and saw the bright crescent moon, in the shape of a thumb-print and I wondered why I had to suffer so much. What did I ever do to deserve such a fate?

People always come and go, I never know anyone for long, and that’s way things go I guess. I have accepted this. I am no better or less for it. I just am. Betrayed, horrified, violated, and the list can go on and on endlessly. Will I ever get out of this place? No, probably not, but still, it’s nice to think about – is it not? 

It all happened too quickly for me to recapture. But the feeling won’t go away. That feeling of helplessness, it won’t go away.

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dee dee

October 25, 2007 at 2:27 am (Uncategorized)

I am a mentor at a middle school nearby after school. I have been involved in the program for over two years, and I absolutely love it. On some days, on those rather gloomy and despondent days, it gives me a reason to live.   

Last year, I had one student who changed me in an indefinable way. Let’s call her Dee Dee (I always loved that name). Dee Dee was an eight grade student, with long frizzy brown hair, glasses like mine, and arms like candlesticks. She was always reticent and though I tried to talk to her about this and that, I always I had a difficult time getting through to her. But, everyday I tried. I really tried. I asked her about her family, her cats, her aunts, her stuff animals, and her after school activities. I always tried to avoid the boring, typical questions, how was your day at school? How are you? What’s for homework?

However, throughout the semester, I realized that I no longer had to ask any questions. The roles were reversed. She asked me. She spoke to me and nothing could stop her. She showed me photographs and she even showed me her private journal, in which she made me promise that I would tell no one, no one…I agreed. I remember being so happy.

As I look the purple journal in my hands and opened the locket and began to read, I realized that someone else’s words were also my own. Except this girl was only thirteen. Thirteen. She was thirteen, yet she was writing too much about sad things. Her mom died, maybe even killed herself. Her dad was in and out of the mental hospital. Her aunt, who she lived with, sounded abusive, verbally and maybe even physically. I thought, what is the world coming to? I wanted to adopt this girl. I wanted to take away all the problems in her life. Her writing was infused with these sad, horrible things — she wrote of razors, blood, and horror, and even cutting herself. The fact is the writing was just too real, not to be real.

One day, I will never forget it, she asked me if she could talk to her in the hallway. I knew something was wrong. My heart felt heavy. Apart of me wanted to runaway.  

“I cut myself,” she told me. I my throat grew dry. I couldn’t breathe. I was dying.

No, no, no…All the signs were there, they were always there, but I never wanted to realize them. What do you say to someone who wants to kill themselves? I mean, I don’t know. Read, literature?

I did the only thing I knew to do. I gave her a hug. And I just stood there with her for awhile, lingering in the hallway. It’s going to be okay, Dee Dee….It’s all going to be okay…You can’t do this to yourself, you are so smart and kind and the world needs nice people like you…You are brilliant…You can do it…I don’t remember how she responded, other than she was grateful. Her eyes smiled. I did something. I made a difference in someone’s life. My father’s wish fulfilled.

“Angela, thank you. Thank you for being here. For me.” *** 

Today, I saw Dee Dee again for the first time in too many months to count. She came to visit the program after school. She graduated from the middle school last year. She looked the same, the same sad eyes and thin rimmed glasses, yet her grin was sadder than before.

DEE DEE! I shouted, you’re here! I was so happy. I tapped her on the shoulder and she gave me a hug.

I really missed Dee Dee. I missed the side that she brought out in me. I missed being her friend. I loose too many friends.   

She gave me a poem she wrote, and I was touched. I can keep it? She nodded and smiled. I want to cite it, in her honor, and I know she wouldn’t mind. Her poetry is so real and honest, it sounds as sweet as music in the spring air, it’s beautiful, poignant, and musical.  Listen and see for yourself:

“I do not fear muchI’m only afraid of myselfI am nothing but a danger,A hazard to my health.My pain is inside and outBecause I can not screamI cannot shout.They tell me to stopI refuse to listenNo one else appreciates how my pain glistensYou say I’m crazyI always agreeI wish I could stopI beg. I plead.If only they would let me beYour voice needs to vanishFor my pain to disappearI wish I couldn’t seeI pray I couldn’t hearI would have no need for painI would not want to open a vainI bet you didn’t want to hearAbout my oh so troublesome fear.”   

I will always save this poem. I will put it in my special box.  Oh, Lord I pray for Dee Dee. I pray for Dee Dee. ***

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the house of seven gables!

October 24, 2007 at 4:33 am (Uncategorized)

On Saturday afternoon, I got on the bus to take a trip to Salem. All I could think about was seeing The House of Seven Gables….I just finished the novel about a week ago and I was really anxious to see the dismal house and the harsh peaks and its sad cry. 

 Due to traffic and heavy rain we didn’t arrive there until around eight at night, otherwise it probably would have taken us about 3 hours. But, anyway when I stepped off the bus, I found that I was in another world.

I was in Halloween town and I was transported into a world that I only imagined in my dreams. The scent of air was so different from where I lived, that I wondered if I hadn’t just stepped into another universe – the air was strangely sweet, it smelt of boiling chocolate, autumn leaves, burning fire, and fried ice cream. Too many smells, too many people, too many things to capture fully…  

As we walked through the quaint town, there were streams of people emerging from every direction. I saw older people and young children dressed up as witches and gremlins. Shopkeepers were strewn along the road with their long plastic tables, selling baked goods, books, gaudy jewelry, and various trinkets. I always love the glimmer of jewelry, and I made a stop at every little station just to look. 

My friend and I visited various shops, all of which reminded me of places that you’d find in beach town. I was so excited when I found a wonderful little Hawthorne magnet in the shape of a stamp, and I also bought a little plaque will Hawthorne’s face etched on it. I thought I would hang it somewhere in my class, if I ever got there. Among other things, my favorite purchase was a cute green apple, a heavy paperweight, yet so perfect for me. I always wanted an apple paperweight. So, I indulged and bought it for myself.  

After we explored the town, I begged by friend T, to go the House of Seven Gables. COME ON! Let’s go…I knew she wasn’t excited about it, but I forced and convinced her that it was something she had to see. I even gave her a quick synopsis of the novel and she still didn’t seem that interested. But, I didn’t care. She was going!  As we followed the road signs we reached a dark gloomy place in which nothing was visible except for the red and green and gold sign that read in big gothic print “THE HOUSE OF SEVEN GABLES!!!” I had reached literary heaven. I was at peace with the world. I was happy.  

We followed the downtrodden pathway to front of the house and there it stood. The inky darkness made it hard to distinguish, but it wasn’t as majestic as I had imagined. It was sadder. I was a little disappointed. This is it? How can this be it?  We bought tickets to take a literary tour. I was literally jumping up and down…We made the last show of the night! The tour involved the characters from the novel — in each room they would enact a scene from the book. What a wonderful idea, isn’t it? I was so excited. This house was made for me.  

I will always remember how I loved that tour. I still remember every character. Especially Matthew Maule, the man with a pale, painted white face and rosy eyes. He came so close to me I almost could feel his breath. And then there was sweet Phoebe with long curly hair and the brightest, most honest smile I had ever seen. And then there was poor old Clifford in his sleeping hat and pajamas, standing beside the arched window with those beckoning eyes. But my favorite was Hepzibah — she was a tiny silver-haired woman sitting behind the desk in her cent-shop with a face like candle-wax – if you’re not going to buy anything, then just leave! Leave! She told us with that scowl of hers…

But the sweet Italian boy and his music and his monkey were missing. Though I could still hear his wonderful music throughout the house. I could feel it. I could feel Hawthorne’s presence too, he was there.   

Being immersed in the place in which Hawthorne was born and lived seemed unreal to me. He walked these streets? He lived in this house? He walked up this staircase? I breathed the same air he did. And perhaps his spirit still lies within that house – what do you think? THE HOUSE OF SEVEN GABLES!

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my writing is too excessive???

October 23, 2007 at 3:32 am (Uncategorized)

At first I wanted to write about The House of Seven Gables, yes – I went to see it in Salem, and I actually stepped inside and took a wonderful tour– I walked the very steps in which Hawthorne once walked! I will post on that tomorrow, I promise. Hobgoblin and Dorothy – you have to go soon! 

But I am not in the mood to do so. Something has really been bothering me. I don’t know why, but it is. When someone criticizes my writing, I always feel like I am about to die or something. The emptiness in my soul begins to expand and widen and there is nothing I can do to stop it. For writing is all I have and when one dismisses that, my only talent and means of freedom, it leaves me feeling sad, anxious, and angry. I can’t write the way the world wants me to. I won’t. I can only write in the way I know how. I want to be poetic and eloquent and so I will.    

Today, I got back a piece that I had written on The Age of Innocence, and I honestly thought that it was one of the best papers I had ever written, and I thought about submitting it to the conference for the spring. I was excited to get it back, but as I took a look at the first page, I wanted to cry. Black ink stained every poetic line. There was so much sloppy writing along the margins and she crossed out my words so they were no longer legible. I didn’t want to read any of it, but I did. Angela – too wordy…this is too excessive…too this and too that 

That old impulse of middle school was back. I remember I was in sixth grade. I failed a math test, and I hid it from my father. I hid it for as long as I could and I always wanted to crumble it up and turn into shreds. I knew Mamma wouldn’t care, but Daddy would. He would kill me. But I remember the day he found out. Mamma told him I was failing math. But the strange part was he wasn’t mad at all. I loved him for that. He said Angela you fail, remember to figure out what you did wrong

I still remember that day clearly. He sat on the couch and I resigned to my place beside him, kneeling on the floor with my crumbled math problems on the living room table. He worked through every problem with me – fractions, decimals, and whatever else there was.  I always loved to be near him. He always made me happy and assured that I would be okay. And sometimes that’s all I needed.  I wanted to show my father my paper now and see what he would think. Would he be proud or ashamed? I wanted him to see me. I no longer wanted to be a shadow. I think he would tell me to keep writing, if that’s what I wanted. Keep writing in the way you know how…His words are still within me, figure out what you did wrong, Angela… but I don’t know what I did wrong and the sad part is I don’t want to know.

The problem as someone pointed out earlier today is that I merge my life and writing as one. But, here’s a question — how do I – how can I possibly — separate the two? How do I separate the two when its the only way to make it real for me?  

But still – the black ink in the shape of swords and arrows still makes lingers in my mind. And the worst part of it all was that I still got an A. I wanted a B or C. I didn’t want a grade I didn’t deserve.

Don’t kill my writing, please. It’s all I have.***  

I am a humble person and I never flaunt my talents, but stuff like this makes me wonder why I try so hard in the first place.

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the play

October 21, 2007 at 4:34 pm (Uncategorized)

On Friday night, I went to see a play with a few students and Hobgoblin and Dorothy –my two favorite people and bloggers J . The whole week I was looking forward to it. I just love plays and the wonder and the colors and the shadows of the stage. I always think of Dreiser’s Sister Carrie when I see plays – and how she found her freedom up there, amid those lights. I always think about how she found her true self – her true voice – within that place. She found that place in which she could be free and that always makes me happy.  

I was really happy to see Dorothy. I hope I didn’t talk her ear off, but I love to speak with those who love literature as much as I do. When she told me that she was reading “The Red Convertible” in her class, my eyes widened and I couldn’t contain my excitement –“Really, that’s great! I love that piece!”  It is a chapter in Love Medicine, and it is one of my favorite novels. How come we have these bodies, they are frail supports for what we feel…(Love Medicine)Then I went on and on about how I thought it was just a wonderful, lyrical piece and how I loved Erdrich’s beautiful, poetic voice – one tinged with sadness, elusive darkness, and yet a hopeful luster. Dorothy listened and nodded politely. I smiled. I thought how passionate I was about such things. I don’t realize how much literature means to me until I speak with other people. I can go on and on about this and that and please you need to stop me

But, I thought how nice it was to have someone just listen to me. I mean people, non-English-major people, can never understand what I mean — what I mean when I say the prose was lyrical or elusive, and it is wonderful to speak with someone who just understands.           

The play was very confusing for me. Most of the time I had no idea what was going on, but I loved it! As I tried to make sense of the mass of confusion, I realized that I didn’t have to. I just let it be. I really liked the spiral staircase in the center of the stage — I thought that was the perfect touch. I thought The Turn of the Screw was an aberration for James – The American and Washington Square, those that I had recently read were rather different, less ambiguous and more real novels for me. Let’s just say that I understood them fairly well upon first reading. But the meaning of this – the meaning of this — completely eluded me. Who is Henry James now? What in the world is he trying to say with this?           

But, it wasn’t the play that was important. It was being with people who make me happy. It was so nice to see Hobgoblin and Dorothy, and my fellow classmates and my favorite part of the whole ordeal was the car ride. There is this one girl, let’s call her A, who spoke incessantly and annoyingly the entire time! I wanted to drop my head and die back there – for her words most of the time, made no sense to me. Where in the world does she come up with this stuff? Where in the world does she come up with this stuff?

But now I laugh about it. As she went on and on, about this and that, how she was a vampire when she was thirteen, or how terrible it was that she worked for some random theater, and how her boyfriend held her mother’s hand during a spooky haunted house, and just oh, how many wonderful stories she had to tell!  I don’t think I have met anyone that out there.  But, I loved the stupid laughter that she brought. I don’t think I have laughed that hard in a long time. It was nice. I just loved when she went on and on about how horrible politics were in America and how we all remained eerily silent. How perfect. I wanted to burst out in laugher.  

After we met in the parking lot, we loitered, and said how hungry we were, and none of us wanted to go home. I was happy. But, then the rain started to hit harder and we ran to our cars. I beeped at Hobgoblin and Dorothy, as I drove speedily and made a right-hand turn, and they waved back at us I have always wanted to do that!  

Thank you for taking us on this wonderful literary excursion Hobgoblin and Dorothy! Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

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can you help me?

October 19, 2007 at 8:23 pm (Uncategorized)

As I sit here in the library, listening to the soothing, warm melody of Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street band, I try to write my Hawthorne paper. I am doing a very poor job — nothing sounds as eloquent as I want it to and I am just having difficulty with it. I can’t think much today.  

I wonder about whether I am sealing my fate in the way that I want it to be sealed. But I realize that it doesn’t really matter, anyhow. I am the first one in my family to graduate from college and that’s what makes me proud. I honestly don’t know if I am doing the right thing for me, but I feel as though this is the right thing. How do you know something is true, or if it’s just something that you are clinging to because it’s already there? I try to tell myself that I am not doing the latter. But I am fooling myself. I can’t deny that’s part of it. It is. I just feel I need to latch onto something, anything quickly before I fall and hit the ground and never see the light again – I am speaking in metaphors, but they are all I can use to express the way I feel.  

Right now, I don’t know anything, so I am doing something, but I feel like I am almost blindfolded, because I don’t know what else to do. I need to establish some means of purpose and meaning in my life, and I think teaching – on any level—can do this. I might never reach my goal, my personal goal, but I can help others attain their own, and I think that’s what I am here for. When I live for others, I feel a lot better — as for myself, I don’t even where to begin. 

I just know that I smile every time I see myself with a piece of chalk–it has to be chalk, not markers. That must mean something, right?   But – even if I end up a high school teacher forever, I like to think that someday, one of my goals will become real, and my writing will finally be revealed to the world.

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read this!

October 18, 2007 at 4:55 am (Uncategorized)

Oh, Little bird, little bird, alleluia. Oh, Little bird, little bird, alleluia. Fire lights the room and leaves me warm and happy. I watch the inky, sharp, startled shadows flit from one spot to the next on the wall across from me and my heart aches like the end of a day.

I wonder if I had ever seen any of them in my dreams. The fire. It’s bright and sad. I always wanted to touch it. I wanted to put my finger to a flame and just let it burn. Just to feel. Just to see what it’s like to feel again. I can’t even try. I can’t. For a barricade of iron blocks the hearth and I can’t get too close without seeing faces. I see too many faces that look too much like hands. I see too many things that I want to throw away and be done with. Too many sad things that would always be there, but how could they not?           

As I survey Mema’s basement, nothing has changed, except for the cold, condensed air that leaves my lips looking like a deep, newly acquired bruise that neither stings nor hurts. I see what I have always seen. The white cinderblock walls that I always wanted to paint. The old smell of tomato and meat gravy that always makes me hungry.  The window that never shows sunlight. The little photograph of Mema, holding a basket of eggs, on the wooden mantle that can give splinters if one touches it.

There are too many pictures. Too many pictures and not enough time. I wanted to burn them. All of them. I wanted to burn them for what they meant and what they didn’t mean. What they tried to hide and what they revealed through the intricate cracks of time. Cracked. Oh, Little bird, oh little bird, alleluia…

One time I stood on the solemn foot of the mantle and just glared at the photo of Mema for awhile. I could have sworn the face suddenly awakened and frowned at me. I could have sworn those brown, gentle, yet stern eyes blinked at me and the head bobbed as though she had been stuck by the hard hand of time. I turned away and I saw it again. The head nodded! The head nodded solemnly, as though nothing could ever be done, no – nothing could ever be done and things were just the way they were. She was telling me things that I didn’t understand. The fire would be fire. The picture would always be the picture.  But light would never be light. Light could never be light!

Mama smiles at me from across the room. She looks as though she’s about to fall into a sea of doughy, thick pasta noodles. She is cooking today. Thank God. She is doing something. She cooks, cooks, and cooks, simply because she wants to. She smiles and cooks. I like when the house smells like that.  

I see her in the hearth too. I see the beautiful golden curves of her face and the candle glow in her eyes. I see her tawny Italian skin, so perfect and clear. I had her in me. I was scared. Oh, Little bird, oh little bird, alleluia…I saw the fire, and I looked at her, and then I saw the fire again and I wanted to run. Except I couldn’t move. I stood there. I watched her. I prayed that she would forget me, that she would forget me. Oh, Little bird, oh little bird, alleluia, I wanted to fall into the sky and never come back. I wanted to run. Run, Run, Run…

The urge was there, inching up my spine, but I was like a wonderful fountain in the middle of Rome without water. I was like animal trying to be set free into new, open territory, but the sad part was that I didn’t know how to run. I was paralyzed.

I see the animal in the fire too. It was a hummingbird. The wings were being whisked away by restless red flames. I wanted to save it. I saw its sad little wings slowly enveloped in the flames and there was nothing I could do to save that living creature. It was crying. I could hear its invisible cry string the chords of my heart like a bad song.

I was helpless and alone. Not even Mamma was there. I let that thing die there. I saw it. My mother didn’t even know. She didn’t even know. I wouldn’t tell her. Oh, Little bird, oh little bird, alleluia…*** 

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