ThoughtsOfAnEnglishMajor

My thoughts on life.

Archive for the category “Writing”

I Sit

In the morning, I sit. I wake up, climb out of bed, and I sit. My posture is slouched, my mind blank; I simply sit. Ideas are not zooming from one side of my brain to the other, but I still feel as if I am contemplating something amazing. It is this moment that I want to be my subconscious. I want to be the person inside of me that I’ll never know. For as long as I am me, I will never know my subconscious. That’s a strange concept for me to try to wrap my head around. It’s strange not because of the complexity of neuroscience, but because I can never know who I am when I’m not paying attention. For all I know, I could be a marvelously mean man who is bitter at everyone and everything, and the person the world sees is simply his facade to get through it all. Perhaps, my subconscious feels transgendered, but it too shocked and appalled by the outside world to let me know how he feels. Maybe I’m exactly the same, but the possibility of me not being the same is something that baffles me entirely. So in the morning, I sit. Why? I don’t know. Maybe I’m waiting. Maybe I’m hoping that one day I’ll discover who I am when I’m asleep.

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Self-Worth

Fight for yourself. Know that you are worthy of love from a slew of sources: family, friends, lovers, humanity as a whole, but most importantly, yourself. In life we find ourselves in many different situations, interacting with people from different backgrounds, interpreting philosophies, combining, ideas, and creating this emotion that we call love. Too often we search for this in other people and the things in our lives. We struggle to remember the simple fact that we are our own fountain of happiness, our own center of love. Everything in your life is nothing more than a reflection of you own self-worth.

Every relationship I have in my history has been a learning experience. All in all, they get better as I move on, grow, and discover ever more discerningly what I am wanting in not only a relationship, but in myself. This feeling of never knowing yourself fully, due to the fact of change, is as liberating as it is terrifying. Often, people will combat the question, “What do you want to do?” with a more philosophical approach saying, “Who do you want to be?” However, I have no idea what I’ll be doing, or who I’ll be. I can only live in the present. I can only soak in the current moment like the dry cracking soil of the Serengeti.

You are not just worthy of love or happiness; you are worthy of greatness, high expectations for yourself and the people around you, respect from your peers, and the knowledge that you are stronger than any environment that could surround you. As a gay kid who grew up in a tough financial setting, who was in a very conservative environment, who took care of a family member that struggled with addiction, who managed to keep it all together for the public eye, I realize the feeling of unworthiness. However, I also obtain knowledge, coming from the pit of my gut, that I am worth something; I am worth love. Amazingly, you are too.

 

Love vs Hate: Not the Only Dichotomy

In one of my English classes we have been talking about the idea of Apolline nature versus Dionysiac nature. We talked about how the world, specifically Greek tragedies, has been influenced by the ever competing views of one’s self. Apollonian nature wants to say that we, as humans, are always striving to build one’s character, to be better. However, the contradicting Dionysiac nature says that in order for our interest to really be sparked, we must tear ourselves apart. We are always competing with our very own thoughts. We are at war with our shadow.

My mind has been wondering lately down the road of literary theory, and god forbid, the ever allusive philosophy. I have been questioning the balance of these two great concepts and have been struggling to find where the line is located that keeps the balance in humanity, and even within my own mind. How are we supposed to balance the construction and destruction of our own moral, intellectual, and emotional character? We don’t.

If we look back on history, we find that great civilizations seem to have times of great peace and great disharmony. In fact, the only time that things are “average” is during those transitions between the two. One could argue that, as a society, we only know the extremes. In addition, we thrive in the extremes; it is in those moments that humanity shines. We are built not to balance everything like the circus performer who rides on a unicycle, juggles bowling balls, balances a broom stick on his nose; all while wearing a ridiculous costume. We are too simple. We struggle to balance those things that we lust for and those things that we know are not as appealing, but every bit necessary.

It is from this ability, or some would argue lack of ability, that we are capable of a slew of other dichotomies in our lives. For instance, we can love someone and hate someone in the same thought; we have the ability to be interested in two different courses of study: English major who is also pre-med. We can laugh while we cry, or cry while we laugh. We can beat ourselves up, and feel impassioned about our life. We are living our lives while we are actually dying. We are walking dichotomies.

We are an architect who has recurring memory loss. Every day he comes to the job site, cancels the current building plans, and tries a new design. He doesn’t realize how much work he is putting into the building. However, he knows that when it’s finished, it will be spectacular. Sadly, it will never be finished; it will always be under construction. Yet another interesting point.

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Think About It..

Just a little while ago a man by the name of Ryan James Yezak released a video to promote awareness of the lack of gay rights in the country. Its other goal is to bring attention to a documentary that James was making detailing those discriminations within our society. I have a few things to say, but I really ask that you watch this video. It will take up five minutes of your day. I ask that you watch this with an open heart and think about it..

I was raised in a country where the members of Congress, the President, and the American people wanted a seperation of church and state. In fact, this country’s founders, despite what many people want you to believe, was founded by people who were tired of religion in government. So why is the notion of gay people marrying still even a debate within politicians’ minds? Because, there is bigotry. Simply put, in its most unrefined definition, people don’t like people different than themselves. Often times, this mindset is most prevelent in religon.

It was the idea of religion, you know the one about “its in the Bible”, that people used to counteract the abolition of slavery, women’s equal rights, and cross-ethnic marriages. It was those people, who do not have their scientific facts together, that scared the country into thinking all gay people had HIV, and that they shouldn’t give blood, semen, or bone marrow.(By the way, all of those statutes are still in place today.)

There is fear of the unknown; I get that. I understand the tiny, yet overwhelming, thought that enters one’s brain and can disrupt an entire life’s worth of thinking. I know what its like to be afraid, scared of thinking, scared of acting, scared of being who you really are. I have been afraid for many years, petrified really. I can connect with the idea of losing everyone, everything, around you.

To have walls is normal, we all build them. We lock people out; our ideas and thougths are our hostages. We take a single thought, decipher it, reword it, reword it again, and again, and again. We try our best to take that thought, which doesn’t fit into society, and make it fit. We polish it, buff it, chip off the rust; we make it look as good as we can. Then we release it into the world.

I can remember the first time I had the thought that I liked boys. I was in third grade. I remember quite clearly that I not only wanted but needed to be around him. I wanted to kiss his cheek so badly. Then as I grew, those unexpressed thoughts became stronger but so did the hatred for gay people.

I come from a divorced home where half of my family is Catholic and the other half Protestant. Needless to say, I have been exposed to the traditional Christian menatality concerning gay people. I have heard the bashing, experienced the bullying, and have been one of those kids who contemplated suicide. I’ve hated myself. So, I prayed. I prayed every night for years. I hoped God would take this away from me, this sin.

Yes, I am Christian. I believe in a God that loves his creation. I believe that all people are his creation (that also includes gay people). I believe that one day we will be judged for our actions, lack of actions, hate, and love.

It has taken me this long to announce proudly that I am gay. I was born gay. It is not a choice. So, for those of you who want to start pointing the finger, let me ask you a few questions. Why would I choose a life where I can’t marry, can’t adopt kids with my husband, can’t give blood or bone marrow? Why would I choose a life where people spit on me, are afraid of me, look down upon me as if I am the dirt they walk on? Why would I risk loosing friends and family? Why would I choose this?

Also, you say this is a sin. The Bible calls it an abomination. You seem to miss the other verses where shelfish, leather, short hair, and showing skin are also an abomination. You seem to miss the verses where kids are stoned to death in the town square for disobeying their parents, or brides are murdered because they aren’t virgins on their wedding day. You say this is a sin. Therefore, you say its a choice. If my homosexuality is a choice you have to accept that sexuality as a whole is a choice. So tell me, when did you choose to be straight?

I am the happiest I’ve ever been, and I hope that one day the feelings that I have for myself, and who I’m becoming, will be the broadcasted message to gay youth. Being gay does not mean you will live a horrible life without family or friends. No, being gay means you will live like everyone else, get a job, have fun with your friends, and find someone that you love. That person will just be the same gender.

Let your light shine in the darkness to be a guide for others. Love.

My Imaginary Friends Are Mute

I have some tragic news to tell my handful of followers. It is something that has haunted me for months now…writer’s block. (Dun Dun Dun)(Camera quickly zooms in on a woman who is unknown to the audience sporting a confused and scared face.)

Yes I have fallen, yet again, to the monster that lives in my blank word document; it seems to be a recurring theme for me. This pattern of having a month of strong ideas, creative characters, interesting and diverse scenes to only be pushed aside by two months of nothingness is starting to get old. I mean, seriously, you would think that creating a piece of fictional magic that envelops the reader in the world of the author would be easy, right?

Since November, I have wanted to write a novel. One that would incorporate a character going through immense changes of self-discovery, treacherous emotional warfare, experimental love, and finally a huge cathartic release of the soul. However, it is much easier for me to describe the type of book I want to create rather than the book itself. I have had at least twenty of thirty complete story ideas and have written pages upon pages of dialogue, scene, and character descriptions only to be left wanting more.

I think I have built up too high of an expectation. I have created this idea that there is an American classic sitting somewhere in my head, and that it is my job to get it out. However, nothing I write is living up to my own harsh critiques. As a result, my entire creative process has tuckered out from exhaustion like my ten year old dog that has hip dysplasia.

Hopefully, by the summer’s end, I will have more of a focus, more of a vision, as what this book will involve, and I can begin my writing and kill this writer’s block.

Do I Mean Something to the World?

“I have learned that you can go anywhere you want to go and do anything you want to do and buy all the things that you want to buy and meet all the people that you want to meet and learn all the things that you desire to learn and if you do all these things but are not madly in love: you have still not begun to live.” 

-C. JoyBell C.

I mean something to the world.This sentence is what we all long to say one day. It is the thing we search and long for in our lives. We go looking for this sentence in colleges, our jobs, our families, our travels. We always are wanting to know whether or not we will even matter 20 years from our death. We try, even in our passing, to be remembered, to be known.

“You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.”-Albert Camus

I was thinking about this concept last night when a friend was trying to figure out what she will do in her future. Should she stay in this major? Should she switch? Should we all just become homeless people in California?( I personally would like that.) So after a conversation, tears, and just a time out from life, we were able to at least calm her down and help her realize that it was going to be ok. But then that statement popped into my head, I mean something to the world.

Here is my dream; it may sound silly or ridiculous to some, but here it goes: I want to live in San Francisco, Chicago, or New York. Really, as long as it’s a big city, I’ll be fine. Although, I like San Fran because its warmer. I want to work in the writing world. What facet of that world? I don’t know. I would really like to work in publishing, teaching, public relations, maybe marketing, or some other job I’ve probably yet to discover. I want to write a book. Quite honestly, I would like to make enough money from that to where that’s all I did, but I have to be a little realistic.

“Because children grow up, we think a child’s purpose is to grow up. But a child’s purpose is to be a child. Nature doesn’t disdain what lives only for a day. It pours the whole of itself into the each moment. We don’t value the lily less for not being made of flint and built to last. Life’s bounty is in its flow, later is too late. Where is the song when it’s been sung? The dance when it’s been danced? It’s only we humans who want to own the future, too. We persuade ourselves that the universe is modestly employed in unfolding our destination. We note the haphazard chaos of history by the day, by the hour, but there is something wrong with the picture. Where is the unity, the meaning, of nature’s highest creation? Surely those millions of little streams of accident and wilfulness have their correction in the vast underground river which, without a doubt, is carrying us to the place where we’re expected! But there is no such place, that’s why it’s called utopia. The death of a child has no more meaning than the death of armies, of nations. Was the child happy while he lived? That is a proper question, the only question. If we can’t arrange our own happiness, it’s a conceit beyond vulgarity to arrange the happiness of those who come after us.”-Tom Stoppard, The Coast of Utopia

I was asked last week by a family member why I liked English, why I liked writing, why I wanted to create novels. I couldn’t answer them until after my conversation last night with my friend. I realized that, for me at least, writing is how I am searching to mean something, to be remembered, to have an influence on others lives. For me, it is how I am happy. My career will be a major portion of my adult life. I have to be happy with what I am doing. I have to accept I am who I am. I like what I like, and that I will mean something to world even if it’s not in the capacity I originally thought.

Poetry: Friend or Foe?

Language is power.

This semester I am taking a creative writing course that is divided into two sections: fiction and poetry. In the beginning of the year, the class had to write short stories, develop characters, create tone through adjectives. In this second half we are writing in stanzas, keeping rhythm, and focusing on the ambiguity behind the idea. In a week from now I have to turn in a poem that will be critiqued by the class in front of me. Oh, did I mention that I am not allowed to speak during the critique?

My relationship with poetry could be compared to the relationship between a cat and a dog. Poetry always barks at me, threatening me with its rhyme scheme, feet, stanzas; it scares me. It is a world full of ambiguity, raw ideas, and great analogies that can sometimes span half of a page. Meanwhile, I am the cowering cat, stuck in the corner, with its back arched and hairs on edge. I hiss at its presence. In short, it’s not for me.

You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.  ~Ray Bradbury

I am a guy who likes making ideas come to life in the reader’s mind. I am a guy who likes facts, occasionally mystery, but mostly the broad range of reactions a person can have to a single event, to a fact. I love constructing places with their grand arches or luminous ceilings. I enjoy creating full, round characters who have personalities so their own that even as I write I don’t know what they will do.  I like being able to envision an entire world based on a single character and how they react to that world.

Poetry is not exactly my cup of tea. Don’t get me wrong, I believe poetry can have all those things listed in the above paragraph. However, I find that I cannot be as open in my creativity when I am thinking about if this word stays within the pentameter or whether my stanzas have a visual flow.  If I am being really honest, it’s simply because I am too lazy. If a story pops into my mind, the world seems to create itself. I just happen to be the first witness. I really cannot take credit because for me it comes natural.

Writing became such a process of discovery that I couldn’t wait to get to work in the morning:  I wanted to know what I was going to say.  ~Sharon O’Brien

As a youth, I would spend hours in my room playing by myself. I do have siblings: a sister eight years older and two brothers about ten years younger. Due to that gap in ages, I was raised as an only child. Meaning all those things you did with your sibling I did by myself like riding a bike, playing in the sandbox, going to the playground, messing around in mud, but most importantly, playing pretend. That ability to foster an entire world just to entertain yourself comes in handy when you have to choose hair color, height, or building size.

I will end this post with my pathetic attempt at poetry:

Tossed like the ocean, battered and broken.

My thoughts only matter when they are spoken.

I’m not a lyricist or a great poet,

but I will admit it; I will own it.

Wish me luck next week!!

The Morning Run

Today I decided I would post a short story I wrote in the beginning of the semester for my creative writing class. It’s only a page and half in length and the requirements were that two or more characters had to find something. Hope you enjoy!

The Morning Run

As the morning fog was lifting from the tree littered hilltop, the rhythmic beat of footsteps gained momentum as the popular running trail had a brief moment of decline. Between the panting of breaths a Yellow Warbler could be heard as he sung his refreshing song. The hues of purple perpetuating from the lilacs on the forest floor gave warmth to the cold, sometimes unforgiving, ground. The sunlight hitting their foreheads made the beads of sweat glisten and twinkle. The beating hearts soothed their souls; it gave them an escape. It was the perfect day for running.

“Stop,” yelled the lanky girl with thick curly brown haired pulled into a tight ponytail. Her demand was successful as the drumming of sneakers against the dirt came to a sudden halt. Standing only a few yards in front of her was her partner, a boy, whose physique resembled that of a professional athlete. He did his best to hide his longing for oxygen. Sweeping his sweat drenched hair to the side of his face, he blurted mockingly, “You tired already?”

“Not as tired as you are,” she snapped back with a smile.

The boy started in, “Well, aren’t you something special.” His tone oozed sarcasm. “Just because you have an award…”

The boy was interrupted. He glanced at the girl as she let out a gasp that laid a blanket of silence over the woods. The girl was peering into a thistle bush as the boy approached her to investigate.

“Look here,” she grimaced as her hand immerged from the gnarly branches. She was holding a running watch. It was all black with great design and light as to not be bothersome for the longer distances.

Before the boy could mutter a response, still holding the watch, the girl began to cry and those few droplets transformed into a surge. She fell to her knees as the salty tears flowed from her grieving eyes. She was struck with guilt.

In that moment, the boy out of insecurity snatched the watched from her hands. As he examined the watch, he knew why the girl was crying. He had seen a watch like this before. He remembers how its twin sits on the girl’s dresser, memorialized by the picture of her deceased father. Her father taught her the secrets of distance running. Her father wore that watch with its eerie similarities to the one found.

“Give it back! Give it back to me,” she pleaded. “Give me the damn watch!”

As the boy, struck with anguish and helplessness, reached out with watch in hand, he couldn’t help, but begin to grieve with her. The girl whose sadness overwhelmed her now grits her teeth in anger. She seizes the watch and with all of the strength in her feeble arms pitches it into the air. Wiping the tears from her eyes, she does her best to repel the memories, the sorrow, but mostly, to repel the guilt.

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Do you want fries with that?

For the first blog I thought I would share an experience that occurred last semester at one of the dining courts on campus. About three friends and myself were all grabbing lunch and about to leave the table when an elderly man came up and asked if he could join us. We, being the gracious students we are, smiled accordingly and made small talk with the gentleman. After five minutes of conversation, we found out that he was actually the oldest faculty member on campus and that he worked in the math department. Then, it was time for him to get to know us and so the nightmares would begin.

The man went around the table listening carefully to each word that my friends were saying. He smiled as they told him about their biology classes, he nodded as he heard news of the physics test, and he even chuckled at one who made a very bad math joke. After all the science/math/engineer students had given the man their life stories and aspirations he turned to me.

“And what is your major?” He asked offering me a smile.

“Well, actually I was seeking a biology degree, but I recently switched to the College of Liberal Arts and am now an English major.” I stated returning the smile.

There was a pause. A silence overwhelmed the room. The old man was thinking of what to say and the anticipation for his words could not be greater. Then looking directly into my eyes with his withered face, cold eyes, and now smile-less mouth he said, “Do you want fries with that?”

Shock. This is what the body goes through after a trauma. The idea that the amount of damage to your body could be so great that your body simply ignores the pain/suffering is an adaptation I find truly remarkable.How can this be? How can this old man be blatantly making fun of what I’ve chosen to do for the rest of my life? Is this legal?So my body went into shock. The room started spinning, the lights dimmed, and everyone started laughing at me; it was like a poorly written dream sequence out of an independent film.

As we were leaving the table I was determined to not let the decrepid man’s opinion become my reality. However, his words fluttered in the back of my mind; they liked to land on my shoulder and whisper into my ear. I guess I will be working at Burger King. Although, I hear that McDonald’s really treats their employees well. So I slipped into a depression that lasted the whole of two days.

I ate more ice cream, slept more, and even did assignments earlier than the day before they were due. During this “Jesus and the desert” time in my life I did a lot of soul-searching. I found out that I didn’t care about old man mountain, that I didn’t care about his or anyone elses’ opinion, that I didn’t care if I made one thousand dollars or one hundred thousand dollars. The only thing I care about is being happy and what better way to be happy than to be surrounded by words that offer escape, redemption, power, and a sense of reality to a culture consumed with technology.

“Viewed freely, the English language is the accretion and growth of every dialect, race, and range of time, and is both the free and compacted composition of all.” -Walt Whitman

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