Musings

Creativity in Hindsight

Sometimes you don’t really understand what your art means, or why you make it at all. But that’s the thing about being a creative person. You can’t stop making things just because you don’t understand them. When I wrote Volumes of Rows, I didn’t realize that what I was describing was probably dyslexia. That swimming around before the words are finally stationary long enough to convey their message is what goes on in my head every time I try to read. It’s as if the characters are on a rubber band that bounces away and back in the millisecond after my eye touches it. I didn’t notice this until recently, but it’s comforting to have an explanation of why I read so slowly, have a hard time with spelling and punctuation, and trouble doing basic arithmetic.penandink

When I’ve explained what I see to friends, the general reaction is something about how terrifying that must be. The first time I heard this, I laughed. It never occurred to me that vision problems were scary; they’re part of my reality.

But reality can be a scary place. Some of us don’t even have to read the news to see that. Some of us just have to remember. I’m still undoing years of brainwashing and manipulation. There are parts of my self, my personhood,  that I have such a hard time accepting because of what I was raised to think and feel about my body and role as a woman. I’ve felt overwhelming embarrassment when I see a picture of myself that shows some evidence of boobs, or even one that simply makes me look good. The amount of shame I felt after going out with friends and dancing with an attractive stranger left me in a state of extreme anxiety for weeks, resulting in more than one minor anxiety attack (one at rehearsal, in front of the whole cast of about 30). Processing my adolescence is taking much longer than I had expected. I keep finding myself upset about things that I thought I had gotten over.

Creating helps. Writing isn’t something I choose to do, it’s something that happens. To be honest, sometimes I hate it. It burns. It feels like drawing a long thread out of my diaphragm, and looping it into letters and words and thoughts. Both the exit wound and where it contacts my fingers feel as though they are being rubbed raw. But I have to do it. To leave that thread in place would burn even more; eventually eating me up from the inside out. When I journal I don’t know where the entry is going. Most begin with something about how I don’t know what to write or how to articulate my feelings. Journaling is cathartic. Writing poetry helps me articulate my emotions that I’m still trying to accept. I create to find out what I feel. And I share some of what I create to validate my feelings and those of others whom have had similar experiences. But I can’t share unless I create in the first place. “You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”

Musings

Odd Child

I was an odd child. Ever since I was very young, I have wrestled with existential issues.

Birthdays have always been torture. Parties would often both begin and end with me crying in my bedroom, trying to forget that everyone there was focusing on me, so eventually I didn’t have them anymore. It bothered me to get older, even when I was small. I was aware of the “normal”achievements of a child valuemy age and it bothered me that I was behind. I’m six years old and I can’t read. I’ve done nothing with my life. Great, another year and no progress. Why are we celebrating my survival of another trip around the sun? It’s not that big of a deal.

But I’ve decided I’m not doing that this year. This has been the hardest year of my life. I’ve been depressed for most of it. I’ve changed more than I ever thought I could. There have been so many times when I just wanted to give up. When I felt nothing and the numbness was overwhelmingly cold and the only hope was that of an afterlife. There have been times when I felt far too much, but the emotions didn’t feel real until I gave them a physical manifestation; a physical pain to mirror and validate the emotional pain. There have been times when I was terrified for no discernible reason. I started having panic attacks. Dots connected that painted a heartbreaking picture and all I wanted to do was forget. But I survived.

I’ve learned more about myself and my tastes. I’ve had crushes for the first time in my life. I’ve been incredibly confused about said crushes. I’ve grown as a writer and a person. I’ve gotten to act and sing. I’ve been published. I’ve connected with people. I’ve learned some things I need to do to take care of myself.

I’m not over my depression or self harm. It’s a constant fight. I’m not done by any means, but I’m learning to accept my feelings as valid without needing a reason or explanation.

For now, I’m going to celebrate surviving another year.

Poet Among Other Things

Mine

You know how one of the favorite social media stereotypes to pick on is that person that posts cryptic things like “I’m so done”? That phrase and others like it don’t necessarily mean “I want to complain, someone ask me what’s wrong;” Sometimes they mean “I’m done fighting” or “I’m done letting things slide.” This is one of the latter.

Mine

You tell me I’m yours
That I will be forever
No one can love me like you do
You say you won’t leave me
That you’ll always be there
Nothing I do could make you go

You say I am strong
Having fought for so long
And you’re proud to say that I’m yours
But that’s not how it goes
You’ve been part of the throes
In the tumultuous life that I’ve lived

And I’m done now
I’m cutting you off
I don’t want your pride
And I don’t want your joy
Don’t want anymore claims of “you’re mine”
‘Cause I’ve been yours for too long
You’ll look up and I’m gone
You don’t get any say
‘Cause I’m mine

I’ve been owned for so long now
Heard your sickly sweet words
Can’t tell what thoughts are yours or what’s mine
Made me do what you want
Think the action was mine
Now I can’t even trust my own mind

You say it’s all in the past
Manipulations don’t last
Then you promptly tell me what to do
You say I’ll make you sad
If I don’t listen and act
But emotions won’t help you this time

‘Cause I’m done now
I’m cutting you off
Why are your thoughts more important than mine?
I’m done being controlled
Now I’m actually bold
And I’m leaving you now
‘Cause I’m mine

I’ll figure out who I am
Don’t need help from a man
I don’t need to be told
‘Cause I’m mine

You can cry all you want
Say I’m pulling a stunt
It won’t do any good
‘Cause I’m mine

Musings, Poet Among Other Things

Love and Freedom

I wrote this months ago, but given the national legalisation of same-sex marriage, it seems apropos to share now. I’m learning that, as a creative person, sometimes you make something, and you love it and are satisfied with it, but just can’t share it. It’s not that it isn’t ready, but that the environment isn’t ready. And that’s ok. It doesn’t mean that the art isn’t good, it just means that the time isn’t right.

Love?

What do you know of love?

You claim it as your Cornerstone

But have you looked at your foundation?

How can you claim to know loverainbowconverseverticle

When you spew death and hell?

All I have to do is say Yes

If you say No I am condemned

You say it is my actions, not me

But you do not see

My actions are part of who I am

My person caused my actions

 

You say you know love

You say what I know isn’t love

How can you tell me what love is?

Describe it to me

How can you know that isn’t what I feel?

You see an outer image

How can you look at one

And say, that is love?

But look at me and condemn

 

You say you know love

Are you patient, kind, just?

You want hard answers

I must define myself for eternity

Do you boast?

Is not your claim boastful?

To know the only love

Your list of perceived wrongs

It chokes the Life from me

 

You claim to see love

But your robe covers your eyes

Your tassels choke your words

You have cut off your own wings

 

And you claim to know love

Worse still

You claim Love has done this

That love left you torn

Beaten and bruised

 

You say you are not weighed down

That you are now made free

But how free is it to struggle?

To act without thought

To ride the wind

To speak the Voice of Ages

To love as seems fit

This is Freedom

Musings

Vampire Legs

A purple striped tank top hung from a pipe in the steamy laundry room. At the top of a stack of shorts lay a matching purple pair. “Why can’t I wear them anymore?” She was young. All she knew was that purple was far superior to pink, and short clothes were much cooler in the summer. The green shorts could go. Blue too. But why did the purple ones have to be gone. “They aren’t modest. A boy could look at you and think about not nice things if he sees too much of your skin.” Modesty wasn’t a concept she really understood, but she didn’t want anyone to think of bad things when they looked at her body.

Face down on the couch, matted brown hair clinging to her sweaty neck. Her legs and feet, propped up on the armrest, were covered in a layer of dust. “Why couldn’t I have been a boy? I should have been a boy.” She adjusts a new, uncomfortable, sports bra. Boys don’t have to wear stupid bras. Boys can wear whatever they want. Even her name was better for a boy.

In a closet consisting of tshirts and men’s jeans, the only indicators that this isn’t the wardrobe of a teenage boy are two denim skirts and a few worn out sports bras. If clothes are meant to cover your shame, they should also obscure every indicator of what type of body is hidden underneath. Tight could be more revealing than low cut, after all.

“You didn’t bring any shorts? I could get you some when I go to walmart later.” A young woman hikes through the woods with her camp counselor on a muggy June day. “No, I like jeans. They protect your legs from thorns and keep ticks off.”

Thud. Squish. Mud makes the trail slick, but that’s what the walking stick is for. She lead a group of young girls down through the woods. It had been cool and raining nearly constantly all week, so her one pair of knee length cut-off shorts hadn’t made an appearance until today. “You have vampire legs.” One girl remarks about the utter paleness of the young woman’s legs.

A group of young people sit around a table discussing fundraising ideas. “What about a car wash? It’s cliche, but we could have the girls wear bikinis– and the guys could wear speedos if they wanted.” She lets out a mirthless laugh “Trust me, no one wants to see this.

A few college friends stand around outside a movie theater. It’s warm, but not uncomfortably so. Summer has just begun and already she has a slight tan on her shoulders, there’s even some warmth on her legs. “What are you talking about? You have great legs.” She blushes and scoffs, but doesn’t refute the complement. The idea of any of her body parts being “good” is still a foreign concept, but she’s learning the language.

She sits and looks at the clothes draped over the ubiquitous “laundry chair.” Are there any shirts with sleeves left? Only a couple that fit. It’s funny how the clothes can change, but the mentality of shame can stay around even when it hasn’t been fed in years.

Hey asshole. There’s no room for you here. The food’s all gone, the party’s over. Go home. I have new friends now and none of us need you. You and your squad convinced us we couldn’t live without you, but you were wrong. Everything you had to offer was a lie. Now we can see you for what you are; a dirty, soul-sucking parasite. Hell bent on making us weak enough to look for strength and then convincing us that you had the answers. But guess what. Despite your best efforts to convince us that our bodies and everything about our personhood was worthless and shameful, we stand together and spit in your face.

Get the hell out of my life.

Kaythanxbi.

Books and Movies, Musings, Pictures, Poet Among Other Things

Hello, It’s Mz. Hyde

Better be scared, better be afraid,
Now that the beast is out of her cage

It’s not clean. They aren’t family friendly in the least. Most of the songs are about sex, whether explicitly or implicitly. The lyrics are full of obscenities. But there’s more to it than that. Sometimes you have to look past the obvious to see the true meaning of art.

One of my current favorite bands is Halestorm. I discovered and promptly fell in love with Lzzy Hale’s voice last year when she sang Lindsey Stirling’s Shatter Me. She has this powerful, gravely, but somehow still smooth voice that I haven’t found anywhere else. The band’s lyrics bothered me for a while. Stuff like, “I miss the bad things, the way you hate me, I miss the screaming, the way that you blame me.” This isn’t a healthy relationship. That song, and others, talk about rough break up sex and other “questionable activities”. But there’s an underlying theme, even in the most sexually charged songs.

But I won’t run
I’m not afraid
I’ll look em in the eye
Gonna hear me say
It’s
My life
My love
My sex
My drug
My lust
My god it ain’t no sin
Can I get it
Can I get an Amen
My grace
My church
My pain
My tears
My hurt
My god, I’ll say it again
Can I get it
Can I get an Amen

Much of Halestorm’s music is about accepting yourself and not giving a damn what others think of you. Having grown up in an environment where even my body wasn’t my own, this is something I’m having to learn in my 20s. I’m learning to own my identity, my beliefs, and my past. “I Miss the Misery,” mentioned above, is about getting out of an abusive relationship, and the twisted reality of missing the pain. While I’ve never been in a romantic relationship, I still strongly relate to the notion of missing abuse. Life is much simpler as a robot without a soul. There are times when all I want is to be back in the culture where I was manipulated, controlled and brainwashed. I’m free now. And I’m working on freeing my mind. I’m making new friends who are more diverse and accepting. I’ve learned a lot from them; like the fact that it’s ok to have very different styles from day to day.

CAM01920[1]Hello it’s Mz. Hyde!CAM01913[1]

I can be the bitch,
I can play the whore,
Or your fairytale princess, who could ask for more?

This deeply bothers a lot people. When you present your self in different ways every day, it confuses them. “I had you pinned as a nerd! What are you doing wearing Birkenstocks and a flower chain? How do I fix your obvious lack of connection to reality when you are dancing barefoot through the forest?” They don’t like to have to think about who you are more than once: the first time they meet you and make a snap judgement. After that, they like to be able to worry about correcting what they saw wrong with you.

When I first wore a black leather vest to school several people asked why I was dressed like a biker. I told them I was dressed like me, how I felt that day. I love this outfit. The tight leather vest, single dangling earring, and black ankle boots make me feel confident and daring. Some days I feel like visually representing the dragon part of me.

But there’s a lot more to me than black clothes and leather, and sometimes I feel like visually representing that side of me. I love my pink stripey tank top, knee high star socks and light grey converse. People are usually amused by this outfit. There are several colors and patterns going on at once. It makes me feel fun and quirky. I wear that on pegasus days.

Bands have songs. Good bands have lots of different songs. One may be about feeling good about yourself and another may be about having the worst day ever, but it’s the same band. People are like that too. They may look and act one way some days and be very different others, but they’re the same person. If you pay attention and get to know them you’ll probably find that those differences are actually kind of similar. My two outfits for instance. One is a dragon and the other is a pegasus. One has skin and scales and the other has fur and feathers, but both creatures have wings. Both are me. I’m also me when I just wear a t-shirt and jeans. Some day I may find another creature that suits me also, and I may eventually not identify with any of them. I’m learning to love and accept this about myself and my new friends. Maybe that makes us freaks, but we’re in good company, and I bet we’re happier than you.

So shout if you’re a freak like me,
You were born to burn,
This is no disease you don’t need a cure!
It’s our time now to come out!

If you’re a freak like me
Are you a freak like me?

Actions in Activities, Musings

Don’t Give Up

Few things make me quite as nostalgic as a debate tournament. Now, I was never a fantastic debater. While winning two out of three rounds wasn’t a huge shock, it was still often a surprise. But I loved it.

I didn’t fall in love with debate right away though. My first tournament was epic. A thing of legend. It was terrible. My partner and I were both first year debaters and we really had no idea what we were doing. She didn’t seem to care that we were doing so poorly, and it drove me insane. But since she was more comfortable speaking and I just wanted to sit in the corner and pretend I was somewhere else, she gave two of our three speeches. I spent most of the time staring at my paper trying to figure out what to write down. When it was my turn to speak, I stood up, thanked the judge, timekeeper and peanut gallery, read the few words I may or may not have written down, stared at my mostly blank piece of paper for a minute or so, said “um” a lot, and sat down. That first tournament I got 1 out of 5 points in nearly every speaker category, in nearly every round. I swore “never again.” I was done with debate, speaking, everything. That was my first tournament, and I was determined that it would be my last. My parents had other ideas. I had to finish the semester and compete in the rest of the tournaments, but after that semester was over I could be done.

It still irks me to say this, (what can say? I inherited my parents combined stubbornness) but I’m so glad that I finished that term.

I learned so much in my time as a debater. It’s not just the obvious things you would think of either. Everyone expects that, of course, public speaking is a nearly universally useful skill. You use it in almost every profession, as well as jobs that lead up to whatever career you pursue (“Would you like fries with that?”). The critical thinking habits are obviously invaluable. But those aren’t the ones that meant the most to me. The lessons that meant to most to me were ones of confidence.

The thing about debate is, sometimes your team can win a round without actually being the better speakers. A first year debater can destroy a seasoned team by pointing out one logical fallacy. A timid speaker can turn a theatrical orator’s case into a colander with the right points. The confidence boost of a win, or even the possibility of a win, is indescribable and addictive. I’ve seen this happen as both a debater and as a judge, and it’s awesome.

When I first started debate, all I wanted to do was melt into the wall. By the end of my senior year, I was often in tears because I didn’t want it to end. Debate can be an amazing activity, but remember five things for me.

  • Everyone makes mistakes. Don’t feel bad when you make one, but when your opponent does, nail ’em. Politely. With a smile.
  • Conversely, when your opponent nails you for a mistake, don’t take it personally. Still be polite and try to remember to smile.
  • You will lose rounds. It’s not a reflection of your worth as a human being.
  • You will think of what would have been the winning argument for those rounds on your way home from the tournament. File it away and be ready for next time.
  • It’s just a game. You are not a lawyer. No one will die or go to prison if you mess up. Have fun.

And parents, please remember that these are kids. Don’t berate them for making mistakes. That’s part of learning.