Skip to content

the eighty-ninth key

…to a body beauty and to a soul wisdom and to an action virtue and to speech truth, but their opposites are unbefitting.

Tag Archives: personal

When my last serious relationship ended, I found myself unable to listen to music for weeks.

As I graduated from undergrad and drove a car my belongings south to my childhood home, I set down my pen. I packed up my typewriter. It is now gathering dust in a closet 2000 miles away.

Over the summer after  I finished high school, my sketchbooks went from being ravaged daily to forgotten for long, impossible stretches of time.

With leaving middle school, I abandoned a passion for short stories and the romances of characters.

Growth merits change, and in my own bones, it fuels abandonment.

This is a result of remembering.

My ability for memory is poor in many ways. I forget names on a pin drop; I grasp for theories, names of songs, recipe ingredients, and lines from poems like a child stretches for the string of a balloon they accidentally let go of in a room with high ceilings. These things are in my head somewhere, floating. It is their presence that I feel far more than their absence. They are merely, quite often, out of reach.

For the first time in my life, looking back on the remnants of my avoidance to muses and passions, I see the sense it has made in prolonging the pain of leaving- leaving family, leaving friends, leaving lovers, leaving familiar lifestyles, cities, and sceneries.  Art is so intrinsically tied to things that one loves. Some of those arts, for better or for worse, I’ve never been able to pick back up in the same way. I never felt a passion for Slam again after leaving the moment of the people I workshopped with in high school. I felt no passion for acting after leaving my middle school drama club- a group from which I made friends that are still some of the closest humans to me in this world.

In the last year, moving to a new place, starting this chapter, I had so few roots that it has been hard to grow at all. When I couldn’t listen to music, it was because every song reminded me in some way or another of a love that had been changed- painful either in reminding me of a happiness I no longer had access to in the company of someone close to me, or in reminding me of the new loss that had come in, vacant and hungry, to curl up and linger in my empty new apartment. The catharses in my life betrayed me, with the surprising sting of acid in paper cuts. I could not see how much I hurt in tiny ways until I squeezed the fruit of art in my bare hands, and it seeped into each little line of my hands.

I’m calling myself out on this tendency of running from muses, by learning to be forgiving. Not for others. It has always been easy for me to forgive almost anything of others, but not of myself. I am finishing books I previously loathed myself for skimming. I am writing and writing and picking up the metaphorical and literal pen like a bat that only makes strikes, like a bowling ball that rolls straight to the gutter, and telling myself that it is okay sometimes to not produce work at the caliber that I strive to. I am hoping to talk more in classrooms full of theory that move faster than I do. I am playing my ukulele, singing in keys that my voice doesn’t stretch to, and often getting very frustrated. All of these things are insanely frustrating. I miss doing things I was great at, and doing them at levels that were easy.

This is a process. This page is proof. That blog posts and NaNoWriMo projects and songs and poems can be rough drafts– and maybe even sometimes nothing more. They can live as a rough draft and still get airtime.

I have not played a horn in over 7 months, since I left Oregon. And in that simple lack, I ache deeply. There are still parts of me that fear reaching for what I love, to remember what I am missing. I have yet to write a full poem in this state that does not fall to shards. But those things will come with time, because I have always felt them ebb and flow within my life, and the notebooks under my childhood bed have just as many skipped pages as prolific ones. Those muses have never left me, even when I refused to return their correspondence, and averted their eyes in passing.

This January comes not with a hunger for newness and change, but with forgiveness the old acquaintance I have forgot in recoils of nervous sadness. I am growing from childhood, and the strings are within reach more and more times again, to pick up where I left off and openly create. Please bear with me. Inside me, there are stories yet to tell, words to grip my paws around, and songs to exhale– all beyond measure. It takes time, it takes forgiveness, but I am working to be an instrument that can get them from there to you, if you will only listen.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

image

Chicago in the Wintertime is a particularly good spirit animal for the mentally disengaged. It is cold- not only in the heartless way that requires you to force lack of eye contact with literally dozens of panhandlers on the daily as to not be putting yourself in an unsafe situation- but also in the way in which I now wear a complete Patagonia supersuit of an outfit underneath my street clothes on the daily. Cold is nicer than hot in many ways. Food, shelther, and hot drink (or alcohol, for that matter) go a long way towards alleviating it, whereas it takes much air conditioning and melting popsicles to mask the sting of a hot desert summer. And still, with the plentiful layering and consumption of much tea and cocoa, this winter is getting to me more than most- even though it has yet to even truly begin. Any native of a snowy region, be it Home Means Nevada or upstate New York, will stick to their guns about winter not being Winter until a first snow hits hard. But not a single part of me feels as if this is fall, in mood or in weather. And for that, I blame Stasis.

Cue the sixth-grade paper Webster reference:

stasis, sta·sis/ˈstāsis/Noun:
1. A period or state of inactivity or equilibrium.

After having made the much-written-about but little-understood “transition” of moving to Chicago/Evanston for school, the chaos seems to have suddenly subsided. Less like an ebb and flow of tide, and more like when airplane tires suddenly touch back down to tarmac. Having ‘planned’ mentally for the months in between my program acceptance letter and my apartment lease, I conjured up so many dreams of what being here would be like that they seemed to take on a life of their own. Romanticized evenings of watching the sunset from a library nook, of cooking for new peers in an eccentrically decorated apartment, of the way co-habitating with a lover in a new apartment becomes elegantly choreographed.  So, with all these plans in mind, I loaded all my belongings into a car, drove them down the coast, then loaded the winners of my Maslow’s Hierarchy of Packing Needs into a handful of suitcases and few with them halfway across the country. And since then, it’s gotten real.  There is no lover here to dance with. The decorations are as sparse as a lack of pocket change and creative energy, and the kitchen is famous for dinners for one. I am reminded of how friends, like furnishings, are things that take weeks and months of time to properly acquire in quality.

And thus, the inactivity that is composed of much activity, the equilibrium that comes of much imbalance.

If this were a 100-level Comm class instead of my personal blog, I might delve into the ways in which the term has salience in Classical Rhetoric. The Greek/Roman uses of the term stasis, which differ greatly from my own current conundrum, can be loosely interpreted as ways in which you get to the meat of an issue.  In debates and courtrooms, there were four different techniques defined as useful to get to the crux of an argument. Fact, definition, quality, jurisdiction. They work kind of like different moves in Moral Kombat to beat up your opponent until you get all the fallacies on the table and a big K.O. right in the middle of the Agora. Or something like that.

Thinking about being in a state of being ‘stuck’ as a chance to deconstruct and refine my life is optimistic to a fault. Conflating the two terms is ridiculous- to equate inactivity to the tools with which one asks useful questions. But maybe a moment of standing somewhat still is what it takes to see the other conflict spinning around, to begin to deconstruct the noise, to have my ears left ringing after the loudness of being somewhere new.

A friend told me tonight to “keep it real” – a phrase used all the time in passing with my friend’s on the West Coast (best coast). It’s fairly hard to do exactly that, to try and live outside of a lifetime of idealized fantasies about what being in my twenties would be like, and to actually just be in my twenties. I’m less than two weeks away from a birthday, less than three weeks away from finals, and less than a month away from heading back to my homeland for a reprieve from this Chicago cold. I’ll have a chance to thaw out. Until then, here’s to trying to take the freeze in stride and trying to use it, to ask the questions, and to put the things that stand in the way of happiness on trial.

-A

Tags: , , , , , , ,

It is November now. I have Internet again at my apartment thanks to some very generous neighbors below me who I bribe with baked goods. Thus, I will now resume blogging short and lengthy recounts of random and significant things in my life. Get stoked.

Currently, I am exhausted. This means I should go to bed. But first, I want to just revel in how nice it feels to be physically tired. Mental exhaustion is my new roommate. I wake up, read, write, eat, go to class, read, write, and sleep. This seems to be the basic itinerary for graduate education. On occasion, I will squeeze a beer or a jaunt to a club in before ‘sleep’; on the daily, I will apply sparingly breaks for toast, ukulele, and working on a fiction novel. Yet aside from rare instances of dancing ridiculously, I am exhausted in my head before my body even has a chance to wake up.

Today I had opportunity to do some hard manual labor. Mindless, bottom feeder work. I sometimes get my wires crossed, that it was this kind of work that zapped my time when I was in high school and undergrad. It seems easy to pawn off responsibility on the less desirable forms of labor. But truth be told, it is work like this that makes me a hundred fold less useless at the rest of the academic requirements. With a window of time that spans weeks and weeks, I will still find myself unmotivated, and largely unsuccessful in creating quality work. It is the crunch, the budgeting around a menial responsibility that fuels me immensely. Consider my attention span (or rather, lack thereof) to be the unstoppable force. No matter how exciting or promising the project, how invested I am in its fruition, it will simmer on a backburner and be approached with low effort until, cue stage left, some ridiculous responsibility serves as the immovable object.

It is sudden and inspiring. With a sense of drive and immediacy, I feel alive, and tackle the intellectual venture with voracious mental appetite. It makes no logical sense. The best deconstruction I can do is just that my sense of something being a challenge is highly developed from the intensity of my high school workload. If I can complete an assignment no problem, where is the self joy? The elation of having proved myself in a situation of odds-against?  School is and remains my priority, but is a halfhearted mandate until an arbitrary amount of discord interferes with my success. Then, game on.

Here is to remembering what it feels like to find motivation and be alive. I have been re-blasting my cheeseball productivity indie-dubstep playlist, and have written more pages in the last 24 hours than in the last 24 days preceding. Tomorrow or in the days ahead I will hopefully be able to construct a more insightful composition of what my life currently entails, but for now I am going to revel in the exciting aliveness of sore muscles and healing burns, and hopefully sleep like a rock.

My best to all who have wandered their way into keeping up with my strange life–

-A

Tags: , , , , ,