I want to grow, always

Sometimes I wonder what would happen if I could fully define myself. Would I be content? What does self-definition entail? Is knowing yourself and trusting yourself distinct from self-definition? Are they the same?

I’m 26 years old and I still make snap decisions. I put important things off until the last minute. I leave massive projects hanging in space.

Sometimes I can’t tell if I’m learning to be responsible for if I’m flying by responsibility by avoidance.

Of course avoidance has been the greatest challenge toward my development as a person.

On the one hand, I’ve made things happen in my life that I couldn’t have ever imagined. Three years ago, I could hardly make it outside the house. I thought about writing poetry; I scribbled some things down in a notebook.

Three years ago I couldn’t imagine how I could manage to continue my education. And here I am in another master’s program…

I started this blog to challenge myself when I was at a low point in my life, at a place in time when I lacked balance and perspective.

Three years later, I think perhaps I should start trying again to build balance and perspective.

Now I think that I am more afraid of the question “who am I” than I ever have been…

I am afraid of what identity means. I am afraid of learning to shed my cynicism. I am afraid of failure. I am most afraid of not becoming my best self.

The best way to grow is to acknowledge your challenges to self development.

Here are a few things that I need to work on:

  1. Maintaining confidence while I learn to trust my own instincts
  2. Having that confidence misconstrued as arrogance in my own mind. There is a difference between confidence and arrogance, and woman struggle with this line especially, since our confidence is always questioned
  3. Developing thicker skin
  4. Not rushing directly to anger when I feel slighted
  5. Recognizing constructive ways to handle anger, rather than bottling it up
  6. Learning to recognize and take genuine compliments
  7. Differentiating constructive criticism from deliberate put downs. There is a difference.
  8. Remembering that success is arbitrary, subjective, and fleeting. I must constantly challenge myself to define what success means to me
  9. *Listening* more closely to other people. I have an anxious problem with not quite listening to others, and keeping the paraphrase of concepts stored away in my mind, whether or not the paraphrase is correct
  10. Learning to love myself with my flaws, as I grow and learn from them, rather than internally criticizing myself whenever I perceive I’ve done something wrong
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In between again

I’m in a space between Master’s programs, between countries, between versions of English. One of my goals in the following weeks is to start documenting the shift in my life. What I learn. Who I want to become. And who I am becoming.

This is one place where I hope to start. Because silence has never helped me to generate more thought, and keeping my thoughts to myself does not always help me build on what I discover about myself.

21 Heart-Punching Quotes That Will Make You Fall In Love With Poetry

Thought Catalog

Unsplash / André FreitasUnsplash / André Freitas

It’s no secret that I love poetry. Like, if I could wake up and eat poetry for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, I probably would. (Okay, sometimes I do). I’ve put together a list with quotes from some of my favorite poets, and let me tell you, *feels* will be felt. All feels relevant.


“You could tie my tongue
My lips, my teeth
Split them into surrender
Into a foreign language
And I would still manage
To cough up your name.”

– Danielle Shorr, “Let”


“Here I love you.
Here I love you and the horizon hides you in vain.
I love you still among these cold things.
Sometimes my kisses go on those heavy vessels
that cross the sea towards no arrival.
I see myself forgotten like those old anchors.”

Pablo Neruda, “Here I Love You”


“They don’t know I only speak in runaway…

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Removing the valve, or jumping the shark

Mad Men has been my favorite television program since I first discovered the show OnDemand in 2009.  I was a few years behind the curve, but after hours of binge watching, even roping my friends into letting me take over the tv while we were at the beach, I was a complete Maddict.

Prior to Mad Men, I never really had “shows,” and would just watch old reruns on tv.  What I’ve always loved about the show is the way that it gets people to tune in and turn on.

The show appeals to me for the same reason it does other staunch Mad Men fans: the era, the advertising, the great writing, the fashion, and our ultimate anti-hero Don Draper.  Initially, the character and back story of Don was so mysterious and dashing, that he was beyond reproach.  But as the seasons have progressed we have watched Don take figurative falls in much the same way his silhouette tumbles downward in the opening credits.

But I’m just going to come out and say it now: this final half-season of Mad Men is floundering.  I think it began to lose its appeal when AMC split the last season in half a la Breaking Bad.  Then the first episode opened with characters… acting completely out of character.  We found Don still at his drinking, but we also encountered Roger in some sort of hippie orgy (?), Peggy as a steaming bitch (understandable enough), and Megan acting insecure.  Plus some scenes were filmed in a way that were out of place with the episode, like when Megan greets Don at the airport.

To the point though: I haven’t given a damn about what Don has been up to all season.  Maybe that’s the point, maybe that’s part of the fall…  (which actually reminds me that Don basically is Camus’ Clamence from his novel The Fall).

The only thing that’s caught my attention in 1969 (the year of Woodstock and the moon landing for christsakes!) was Ginsberg’s nipple box.  Don had a threesome and went up against big tobacco AGAIN and all I care about is some secondary character’s psychotic break.  Why?  And has Mad Men finally gone too far?

I mean, we’ve seen these characters do some incredibly sketchy things, and for my part, I’ve taken it all with a grain of salt.  They run over a guy’s foot with a lawnmower they had conveniently sitting around the office, sure. Everyone in their advertising world is an alcoholic and blatantly sexist, well, it was a different time.  Lane commits suicide, sad but part of what happens in a high stress environment.  Joan pulls some unfortunate moves to get ahead… uhh.

But “The Runaways” this week was just over the top.  Wiener is obviously trying to cram too much plot into this season with barley any historical context for an absolutely crucial year of the decade.  In the process, he jumped the shark, or should I say sliced the nipple.

Michale Ginsberg started out as such a promising character; even his name seemed to suggest that he was going places: Ginsberg like Allen Ginsberg to Don/Dick’s Whitman as in Walt Whitman.  He was always a little off, but his eccentricities were part of the character’s charm.  I had hoped to see him go places at SC&P.  It was clear throughout the seasons that he was talented.

However, in my opinion, Matthew Wiener and his writers created Ginsberg to be too unbelievable.  He was born in a concentration camp during WWII.  I know it’s possible, against all odds, that a child could have come into the world in such a horrible place.  It was simply too much for me to actually buy.  The story seemed like a way for the writers’ to one-up Don’s odd history: son of a prostitute, raised in a whorehouse.

Ginsberg spent much of the 5th season outdoing Don morally and creatively.  For the next few seasons, he would show up only to add some sort of craziness for humor or to save the day with an ad slogan.  No more substantial plots about him.

Actually, when he began to receive his own storyline (finally) in season 7 in “Runaways,” I was excited.  After all these years of waiting for more Ginsberg, I was finally getting more.  Sure, it was pure craziness about him believing that a giant computer was turning everyone gay, followed by an entirely catastrophic come on to Peggy, but whatever, I’d been rooting for Ginzo forever.

When Ginsberg walked into Peggy’s office spouting some insane babble about “removing the valve to release the pressure” I was hoping he was speaking metaphorically.

Of course not.  I should have seen this coming.  The character was unbelievable from the beginning, and I see now that Wiener et al. needed to find a way to nix him.  Yet I think the worst possible solution was to have him cut off his own nipple and present it to Peggy in a box.  That sort of mutilation belongs on Hannibal or a very different, bloodier show like Turn, the new AMC Revolutionary War Drama that precedes Mad Men on Sunday nights.

I don’t know what the creators of Mad Men are trying to do or why.  My hope is that they will get their act together by next year, and perhaps give us the return of Conrad Hilton along with the moon.

 

Criss Crossing

I am tired of flames, less drowsy
than the cream dogwood blooms
without the spikes scarring
hands but not feet
so I can wiggle free.

Only heretics
burn as lips,
desiring tongues to consume
their lack of sin,
an innocence in herbs and balms.

He too was condemned to a tree,
bound but not burned
for his loves
breathing in incensing ashes,
already asphyxiated.

Sift through the coals
and name the shoot stirring
after him
so she can rise anew after three days,
from the mouth of the cave.

Praise for another Aries: Jericho Brown

 

I started reading Jericho Brown’s Please today and am completely hooked. Each poem makes me sway as I read, thinking over and over “I want to write like that!” It’s been too many months since I’ve found a poet who inspires me want to write better. His poems are so free and so liberating! I need to read more for an in depth analysis, but what I have seen so far knocks the wind right out of me, makes me want to take that wind and shape it for my own voice.

My poems have started to sound and feel claustrophobic (unnecessarily dark) lately.

I’m hoping to take a workshop taught by Jericho Brown at NYU this summer, so with a little luck I’ll get to learn from him. Even if I don’t get in, at least his poems are helping me right now, while I’m getting through this weird, transitional time in my life.

Also, his birthday was yesterday. So I thought while I’ve been honoring my fellow Aries,’ I’d post one of his poems today as a (belated) birthday tribute.

 

The Burning Bush

By Jericho Brown

Lizard’s shade turned torch, what thorns I bore

Nomadic shepherds clipped. Still,

I’ve stood, a soldier listening for the word,

Attack, a prophet praying any ember be spoken

Through me in this desert full of fugitives.

Now, I have a voice. Entered, I am lit.

Remember me for this sprouting fire,

For the lash of flaming tongues that lick

But do not swallow my leaves, my flimsy

Branches. No ash behind, I burn to bloom.

I am not consumed. I am not consumed.

 

Chaplinesque by Hart Crane

Chaplinesque

By Hart Crane

We will make our meek adjustments,
Contented with such random consolations
As the wind deposits
In slithered and too ample pockets.

For we can still love the world, who find
A famished kitten on the step, and know
Recesses for it from the fury of the street,
Or warm torn elbow coverts.

We will sidestep, and to the final smirk
Dally the doom of that inevitable thumb
That slowly chafes its puckered index toward us,
Facing the dull squint with what innocence
And what surprise!

And yet these fine collapses are not lies
More than the pirouettes of any pliant cane;
Our obsequies are, in a way, no enterprise.
We can evade you, and all else but the heart:
What blame to us if the heart live on.

The game enforces smirks; but we have seen
The moon in lonely alleys make
A grail of laughter of an empty ash can,
And through all sound of gaiety and quest
Have heard a kitten in the wilderness.