gifts and compliments

November 30, 2007 at 9:36 pm (Uncategorized)

Mama sent me a package! Oh, it is so nice to remembered and loved! Isn’t it?  

As I opened the small box I took out a few small wrapped items in glittery snow-man-wrapping-paper and a wonderful looking envelope with tiny snowflakes in the corner. I love when my mother writes to me. She never knows what to say, inarticulate by nature like me, but she has this magnificent, perfect handwriting and when I was little and even now, I try to emulate her soft and lovely style.  

First I opened the gifts, they were small and cute and perfect for me J She bought me a really cute rubber duck keychain that I had seen at the store and wanted to buy – it even quaks and lights up. Next, I opened a package of socks which had snowmen printed on them how does she know I need socks?  And then, I can’t remember! Hold on while I think……Oh yes, a Snoopy, Charlie Brown ornament, which is so cute and I love it.

All these little gifts meant the world to me. I was on the verge of tears. It was as though everything that happened to me during the week was tumbling from my heart and crushing everything in my soul. Thank you Mama.

I called her as soon as I opened the box and all the gifts.

— Mama. Thank you.

My mother never hears that word enough.

“Oh, Angela. What would I do without you?” I don’t know. What would I do without you?

And then we spoke of meaningless trifles, how’s christifer doing (I love to call my sister that)….and this and that…but it is so nice to her soothing voice. I miss her everyday. It’s sad to grow up and it aches to have days go by without seeing or talking to her. *** 

Next thing. I was helping K, this freshmen student today on her paper on Hamlet. I really admire her, she is always in the library and I meet up to help her with her work often. She gave me the most wonderful compliment! It made my day.  

“You know, Angela, you are going to make the greatest high school teacher…You will be great! I was telling my friend the other day about how much you have helped me and well…I just think you’ll be wonderful.”

Really? Really? I asked rather dubious.

“Of course. I really think so…”  

No one has ever said anything like this to me. When I say high school, people smile that horrible smile and turn away, as though they are saying wow…what in the hell are doing that for? what in the hell are doing that for? (please pardon the language but I will leave it in there for the feeling I want to be evoked from the reader). Is all I see in their eyes, but more than that I can feel it. My family especially. No one understands. No one believes that I can do it.

But K does – this girl who I have helped does — she believes that I can! Thank you for giving me the reassurance that I constantly need.

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things

November 29, 2007 at 4:52 am (Uncategorized)

Dr D is one of my favorite teachers. She is small and cute, and her eyes are large and brown. Her thin sparse golden hair is short and it is always plastered to her forehead. Her cheeks are always painted with blush and her round glasses, especially her reading glasses, always sit on the end of her nose.  

Every time I walk into her office it is as if she has seen the sun. She looks up from her gigantic book on The Odyssey and says, “Angela! Sit down…” And she points to her little chair beside her desk and we sit and talk for a long time, usually until I have to race off to work. Dr D always listens to me. I probably tell her more than I should, but still it feels good to tell someone.  

Dr D is a complex character though, for this reason. I am letting her down. I know this because I can see it in her eyes. She’s sad. In her eyes, I am taking the easy way out. I tell her it’s the money. It’s all about the money, but it’s not about the money at all. It was never about the money. If I really wanted to go on for more degrees, I would. But I don’t. I don’t see the point.

I was never one for titles, and I don’t want one now. I just want to be Angela. That’s it. I am a simple person and I ask for very little, and that is how I have always lived my life. Angela. That’s not so bad is it? I rather chose happiness over anything else. And it is people that make me happy. Books, make me happy too, but not in the same way. Books are nice, but it is people who make you feel, make you smile, and make you laugh. The longer I live the more I realize this. I have to do what’s right for me. And right now, this is it and I am sure that if I don’t like teaching high school, maybe I’ll try elementary school. I know that I will spend the rest of my life in one classroom or another. But I hope the former works out, because I want to be closest to books as I possibly can; I want to be able to have the chance to read them with others! For this is how I want to spend my life. Simple. *** 

I am working with a sixth grader named J. now in an urban school system nearby. He always makes me laugh and we have so much fun talking and doing homework. I make him read every single sentence of everything he has to read. Although he usually tries to skip large chunks of it without me noticing…

“In Egypt there was a draught in which everything was dried out and laladalaldadlad” and then onto the next paragraph “Back in the 100 AD…laladadddadaa

No J, I say politely, read each and every word and say it like you mean it. He looks at me and purses his lips. Then he would re-read the paragraph and talk in all different types of crazy voices, a mouse-like one for instance, which always makes me laugh I can’t help myself…But still, this child respects me. I know this because he always listens to me and once he asked me if I could teach at his school.

“Yes, maybe J,” I said in reply, and his eyes lighted with an unknown fire.

“You should ANGELA! We love you.”

 “Awww…Alright.” 

Whenever I see a teacher, I see a beacon of light. For anyone who devotes their lives to teaching others makes me feel reassured that the world isn’t so bad. Right?

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going away — to where?

November 28, 2007 at 3:36 am (Uncategorized)

Today was a horrible day. I don’t know why, it was just horrible. Everything is a mess and I don’t know what to do. All I want to do is cry. But I can’t do that. I won’t let myself do that.  

I need to get away from this place and I am not sure where I need to go, maybe to Europe. Yes, Europe! I need to go to the place in which my family came from. I need to do this. I want to spend some of my life there. Sometimes I wonder why we moved to America in the first place. I wish we lived there and then maybe my life would be different. I imagine it so much differently. Maybe I would do some cooking. Maybe I would run through fields all day. Maybe my dad wouldn’t have gotten sick….All I think about is  peach and lemon trees, mountains that touch the sky, fields of green grass, the scent of bread, and oh, of biscotti and pelanta… Hmmmm….Pizza and pasta with fresh, quick gravy everyday, all day. Farms. Open territory. All the stuff I love. I love looking through Mema’s family album, all of the pictures from that wonderful place, Setta Fratte, never cease to intrigue me. Such bright faces. Such beautiful lights.  In times like these, I really need to be near my mother, but she’s not here. Mama—help me.

There – I feel better. Thank you *** 

What a horrible post! I’m sorry but one thing is for sure, I always am able to write the truth, though I can’t speak it. Ironic, I know.

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a bunch of things

November 27, 2007 at 5:51 am (Uncategorized)

Today was a really good day. Dr. W gave me this wonderful newspaper article, actually I asked for it about a new discovery in Wharton’s work. You should definitely read the article in the NY Times!

It is about how they found this letter of Wharton’s stuck in the front pages of one of her earlier copies of the novel; she had written to a doctor about whether the sleep medication in which Lily Bart takes in The House of Mirth, would really kill her and lead her to suicide– this intrigues me because people are still speculating about Wharton and her work! I for one supported the idea that Lily did kill herself, but society metaphorically kills her. To society she was viewed as a mere ornament, but to herself, she was nothing – she was trained and conditioned to believe this. I remember connecting to this book unlike any other. I felt what Lily felt. And it made me reassured. Someone else felt the way I did! I wasn’t alone! 

When Dr. W told our class about the article and it made me really happy. For one, as you know, I love Wharton and all of her works! When you think of Wharton, you must think of me.

But anyway, after class I asked Dr. W if I could make a copy of the article. “KEEP IT!!” She shouted as she shuffled out of the classroom with stacks of papers in her hands. She wouldn’t even let me get a word in. “Thank you,” I said to the empty classroom. I then took the pleasure of erasing the board, which was a sloppy mess, the only things I could really make out were CONVENTION, RULES, REGULATIONS, SUFFRAGE, FREEDOM, ALONE, INDEPENDENCE…etc. and etc. I love the way Dr. W teaches. She has taught me so much. All of these things both define and yet defy her.  

Also, I just have to add in the fact that I am just an incredible board-writer-person. During Hobgoblin’s class, he asked me to write on the board and I couldn’t have been more thrilled. As I walked up to the board, I felt as though I had won the lottery or something. Everyone was smiling at me. It felt good to be up there. I wrote all these wonderful things pertaining to Hawthorne – twilight, masks, identity, country bumpkin, riots, twilight, history and political factors, light and dark, and I threw in a few smiley faces on top of that. I even formulated my own question that Hobgoblin just had to ask J The students loved it.

One student even offered to take a photo with his phone and I anxiously agreed. He made me happy. Now I get to preserve my amazingly wonderful board-writing-skills forever! He will send it to me shortly, I hope. But it did look quite wonderful, like a masterpiece that should be framed in silver or even gold. All of those ideas! The air of ideas is the only air worth breathing! Isn’t it?

“Don’t you want to erase the board?” I smiled. I didn’t.  

I wanted someone else to be inspired by those words. Why can’t Robin ever see the truth? I asked. Why, why, why, why? *** 

Later that evening, while eating a horrible dinner of French fries and crispy chicken, I recounted the story of my experience in front of the class to my friend. She smiled that lovely smile that heals all wounds, and said, “I have never met anyone who loves English as much as you do.”

I was walking on my tiptoes then, about to fly into midair. ***

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writer’s block?

November 26, 2007 at 3:19 am (Uncategorized)

“So you protected yourself and loved small. Picked the tiniest stars out of the sky to own; lay down with head twisted in order to see the loved one over the rim of the trench before you slept. Stole shy glances at her between the trees at chain-up. Grass blades, salamanders, spiders, wood-peckers, beetles, a kingdom of ants. Anything bigger wouldn’t do. A woman, a child, a brother – a big love like that would spilt you right open in Alfred, Georgia. He knew exactly what she meant: to get to a place where you could love anything you chose – not to need permission for desire – well now, that was freedom (191). 

How beautiful are these words? Can you guess where they are from? I’ll give you some time to think about them……. and then maybe you’ll be hit by a spark of inspiration and feel compelled to say TONI MORRISON and BELOVED!! And you guessed correctly, congratulations! A+ 

So, how was your day? Mine was really nice. And I will tell you why.

I WROTE for the first time in long, long, long time. It feels like ages and eons ago that I wrote something I was truly proud of. And it hurts to go that long within writing anything pertaining to literature. Isn’t it?  When I am out of school, I will probably still write essays on books just for the fun of it. That is one thing I will always miss. As much as I complain, I really do love school, and I wish I could be there all my life. But as I told one of my professors, “it’s naturalism” and so I have to do what I have to do. There is no other way around it. Its okay, its okay I tell myself again and again, but I don’t know what’s OK and what’s not. What’s true and what’s not? It hurts to think this way. *** 

Today, I sat in my usual place on the side of the dining room table and began to write my Scarlet Letter and Beloved paper, one of the last papers of the semester! I was afraid to find what I knew was perhaps was there, lurking within the shadows of my mind. But, I overcame writer’s block! I can’t tell you how good it feels to finally have my thoughts articulated, ARTICULATED CLEARLY I will add.  For the longest time I felt as though I had nothing, nothing inside, it was all drained out, and now I realized that I was wrong.

I am not a failure at writing and I still have that latent talent inside of me. All the helpful criticism that I have received in the past couple of weeks has really, really hurt me, if you want me to be completely honest, but it has really transformed me as well. Thank you Dr L and Hobgoblin for putting my feet back on the ground! I am different because of it, I think. Writing shouldn’t be a reflection of my soul, no one wants to hear about that battle… and so I am trying to separate my feelings from what is going on in the story. Though the lines are still kind of blurry, I am trying, really trying to see them separately. Thank you for instilling my eyes with truth. I needed that.   

Almost 7 pages completed in one day! Wow. I felt as though I was flying amid an infinite realm of sky. How wonderful and free! I wrote and wrote and wrote for hours upon end. I’ve finally reached that place in which I always yearned to find within my writing. I won’t share anything on here, because I’m not ready to do so. But still that wonderful feeling of accomplishment is back.  

And how nice it feels to have all of those lonely blank pages filled!!!! How wonderful to finally create something wholly your own! There’s no greater feeling in the world, is there?

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something to think about

November 25, 2007 at 1:58 am (Uncategorized)

“Just as I was leaving I felt an urgent desire to ask her what freedom was and went back. She sat with her head in her hands, moaning softly; her leather brown face was filled with sadness.

‘Old woman, what is this freedom you love so well?’ ” (Ellison 11) 

I loved this quote and I just had to share it. ***

 

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Oh the wind

November 25, 2007 at 12:23 am (Uncategorized)

As I was working and putting books away, abnormally slowly I might add I always am thrilled by the new things I learn. Examining each and every book, reading the preface or introduction takes quite awhile! But the librarians don’t care, I don’t think, and if they ever questioned me about it, I would verily confess and take my leave with pride. Hey! That’s what the books are there for, aren’t they?

I always do the same thing when I am up in the stacks. I wonder through each and every aisle until I find a title that catches my eye. Today that title was something I can’t really remember, I will have to look at the book again, as you know my short term memory is just horrible, but it had something to do with the wind. Oh the wind or something like that. Does that ring a bell? I don’t know the title exactly, but I could find the book for you in a matter of seconds. I will go back on Monday to see, and then I will let you know! 

Anyway I read the Chapter entitled “We.” I loved this woman’s prose—it sounded kind of like MFK Fisher the food critic — and I can’t remember her name either. I’m sorry! All I knew was that, I needed to buy this book immediately. The text the library was an ugly green copy that seemed like it had survived for a few centuries or more. Inside the front cover there were many scribbles, saying this and that, meaningless nothing that ruined the book with the mark of an unknown human hand. I wanted to find an eraser of some kind; I wanted to white-out all those ink blots. I didn’t like to see that. Books that are not your own should not be touched or written in. Though I do love when someone else has underlined a wonderful passage that I too connect with! 

 How do I get on these tangents?? Well the chapter I read had me hooked. This woman was in her early thirties, average and married, when she met a lean brown eyed man named Lawrence. He awakened her internally and he made her see the chains of convention and horror that she lived within – she was a mother of three children and she was finically secure, pretty well-off as far as I can tell – the best parallel is to Edna in The Awakening. She only knows him for less than six weeks and then they marry and flee the country. I remember the scene so vividly. Lawrence is playing a game with her children by the lake in the middle of spring, helping them make these cute little paper boats, and she realizes then—suddenly — that she loves him. She hides nothing and confesses to her husband. She leaves everything just like that!

I thought such a decision was beyond words. I would never be able to do that. My mother would never be able to do that. Or her mother before her. I am part of an endless chain, and though I am different and did do something with my life – more than anyone would have imagined – I still am part and parcel of this interminable chain of expectation and convention.  

But this woman is such a role model. Not because she left her children of course, but because she did something that she wanted.

“I would sacrifice my life for my children, but I wouldn’t sacrifice myself…” Can you guess where this from? Hint: it’s written by Kate Chopin.

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happy thanksgiving!

November 23, 2007 at 3:49 am (Uncategorized)

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone! 

I had a really nice relaxing day. My sister and I cleaned our room, which hasn’t been cleaned since I left for school in August. I spent most of my “cleaning” time looking through my boxes of my books, and I rearranged them on my bookshelf and for the first time in awhile, it made me realize things I had long forgotten about. Lost in the endless clutter of life, I forgot my raw love for reading. This semester it’s been all about getting things done as quickly and as deftly as possible. No joy. No love. No feeling. No Nothing! No Nothing! What has happened to me? I have been complaining to everyone about how much I have to read all the time. But that’s because it’s taking over my life. I don’t live. I read.  

But today, shuffling through this book and that book, I felt free again. I was me again. That me that I had lost for such a long time and that I had forgotten I had. Who am I now? Most of the time I feel horrible about myself and I don’t know why. Books make me feel better though. Books, books, books, books… 

I felt much better after I had cleaned for a few hours. It is that relieving feeling that solely comes after cleaning, dusting, vacuuming. I hate to live in soot and dust and filth. My sister was quite proud of me, my mom too. Ma, I cleaned my room today… She too was proud though not surprised. Her eldest daughter was finally doing something besides reading.  

Next stop was Mema’s house, though I am too tired to write a vivid account. Mema will always be Mema. I always love going to her house and I always will. Though there is a great divide that exists within my family, we all try to pretend and just let things be — as horrible as that may sound. It’s not so bad. We’ve, I think, just accepted it. But the sad part is that nothing will ever be the same. Nothing will be as it once was. I lost my appetite for turkey when I sat at the table. I wasn’t hungry and I picked at my food.

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today

November 22, 2007 at 1:57 am (Uncategorized)

Today was my first day off in a long time. I slept too much. I ate too much. I spent too much money. But it’s all okay, right?  

I got a little work done here and there. I read and I attempted to read some of the articles that I had picked up from the library, one of which was very illuminating and telling. I really enjoyed what various critics had to say. But still I am tired. I find myself like a shadow, and I am so tired, that I can not even write. I tried to write a paper that I am excited about, but there’s nothing, nothing there. I have so many ideas, but I don’t know what to do with any of them. My writing, like my life, is turning into a convoluted distorted and horrible mess. One in which I can’t entangle, because that is just the way things are and perhaps will always be. No, no – don’t take my writing too – no…no…don’t take that too…But I don’t know where to begin so I continue to put it off. Hester and Sethe. Hester and Sethe. I am trying. I am trying, but my efforts prove to be futile. The screen remains blank and yet ideas are swirling in my mind…*** 

Another thing I discovered is that my sister will probably get published at some point in her life. All of a sudden she wants me to read all that she has written, including things she has prepared for her college application. I am amazed by her writing style and I really admire it. I can’t really explain it, and she would kill me if I posted any of her work on here, so I won’t, but still, she has real talent. She is only seventeen and she writes better than I ever could. Tonight I told her that she should write, just write anything to see where it takes her. But she’s not like me in that way.  She once wrote this piece called “An Adamant Attempt,” in which almost made me cry. It was about our cousins and our black cat and our house on River Road. I have never been on the verge of tears like that. Her prose was funny, yet sarcastic and warm. It was beautiful and yet so unlike my own that it was relieving in a good way. I devour whatever she writes because of its power. Lucky she has me to edit all she composes.

Oh Angela can you find it in your little heart to read my paper…” “Angela can you look over this?” Every time I come home this is all I hear. And honestly, I don’t mind at all, I want to help my sister, but I want her to do something for me…But can you read mine — ? Why don’t you ever want to read my work?   

Oh and one other thing. It was really nice to see my brother again. I haven’t seen him in over three months and I really missed him. He looked different, like a poet almost. His hair grew long, wild and restless, and it reminded me of my father’s when he used to return after a long day of work at the site. He looked strangely pale though his cheeks still had that lovely russet hue like me. He looked too skinny, as though he could easily be wisped away by the wind. I didn’t like that – by brother always looks better when he has a little weight on him — but I don’t think he eats anything up there. I wonder why. But he and I are similar in that we hate all food except Ma’s. I would never tell him this, but I admire him a great deal. I admire him because he is not anything like me. He goes out and has fun and feels no remorse for what he does. He lives fearlessly. And oh, how wonderful that would be to know what that feels like…. 

You’re back!

You’re back!

Angela –You look the same.

I do?

Yea.

Nice hair.

OK.

What’s Mommy makin’ for dinner?

She’s making dinner! ***

It’s nice to be all under the same roof again.

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thank you for creating invisible man

November 21, 2007 at 3:09 am (Uncategorized)

ralph.jpg

“It goes a long way back, some twenty years. All my life I had been looking for something, and everywhere I turned someone tried to tell me what it was. I accepted their answers too, though they were often in contradiction and even self-contradictory. I was naïve. I was looking for myself and asking everyone except myself questions which I, and only I, could answer. It took me a long time and much painful boomeranging of my expectations to achieve a realization everyone else appears to have been born with: That I am nobody but myself. But first I had to discover that I am an invisible man!”  

This is exactly how I feel! When I read these lines for the first time it was like I was hit by rock or something. I was awakened. I was thrown into the melodious movement of Ralph Ellison’s wonderful novel Invisible Man. I really love this book so far. I love the musical song of the prose which transports me to another realm – one of injustice, poverty, and racism.

I was surprised to find out that Ralph Ellison is named after Ralph Waldo Emerson – this makes perfect sense, I thought.  I think at heart Ellison is a Romantic. It is like what I read in the Preface of the Blithedale Romance, Hawthorne wouldn’t be able to partake in such an experience as Brook Farm, if he himself wasn’t a Romantic and didn’t believe in the dream himself. Hawthorne was a dreamer too! I feel the same way with Ellison. He wants to believe in that radical American idealism yet when he compares it to 20th century– it doesn’t match up. Reality is just reality – it written in black and white codes of hieroglyphics; hieroglyphics in

which not even our forefathers can decipher or understand. Our society has become so convoluted and our values have been so distorted and Ellison is looking upon these broken parts of society and he is criticizing them: “How could you treat a Negro as equal in war and then deny him equality during times of peace?” (xiii). How can our society be so ignorant and horribly oppressive to those who want the same things as we do? How did we degrade an entire race of people – yes an entire race of people – for over 400 years? How did white Southern slaveholders ever manage to defend such a system?  

It makes me shiver and it makes me sad to know that slavery existed for so long. Reading to those children on Fridays, is all I think about. Perhaps their great-great parents were enslaved. Perhaps they were ashamed. Perhaps they were sad. Perhaps they didn’t even know. Perhaps they wondered why. Perhaps nothing. That’s the best part about this book – feelings are just felt they are ARTICULATLED. And in my life and in my writing this is one of my biggest problems, I have such a difficult time with my feelings and much of the time I rather remain silent, invisible.  

I can draw many parallels between Bigger Thomas in Native Son (my other favorite novel!) and the nameless narrator in Invisible Man. Both fight for life in which society gives them no means of attaining one. Both are aimless wanderers. Both are sleepwalkers. But the exception is that the nameless narrator, I think, is not willing to internalize what the white world tells him. He is not willing to fall. He is willing to take action and do something that no one may have envisioned. In some respects, he is Ralph Ellison – he is Ellison as a young man, perhaps. I remember that I am invisible and walk softly so as not to awaken the sleeping ones. Sometimes it is best not to awaken them there are few things in the world as dangerous as sleepwalkers…(5)

All I could think of was Thoreau’s quote of the masses of men who lead lives in “quite desperation.” It made me sad.  

“What did I do

To be so black

And blue?” (12) 

What we do without African American literature! I love it. If I lost all of my books in a fatal fire, I run out the door with Beloved, Native Son, Black Boy, The Song of Solomon, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Their Eyes Were Watching God, and Invisible Man of course. And oh a collection of Langston Hughes poetry and his short stories. J  

What did I do

To be so black

And blue?” (12)

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