Day 4 of 7

Today’s Prompt: What’s one thing you’re proud of?

I’ll keep this one short because the liquor store closes soon and I’m out of wine.

I’m proud that I went to China by myself in 2015. It was my first solo trip, and also the first time I felt in control of my own life. Taking the leap to live in Beijing for 3 months was somehow easy, as if I was a superhero emerging from the ashes of a fallen building. In my case, the fallen building was the most recent semester. I was wickedly depressed, my grades were poor and I had so much late work*, and no desire to stay in college (though I had merely one semester left).

Then I was left stranded at the Beijing International Airport. Some miscommunication I still don’t understand left me without a chauffeur, and I had to take a taxi to my apartment. I had no idea where my apartment was, and neither did my driver.

We communicated in broken English, broken Chinese, and Google Translate. I got to my apartment. I waited, but my roommate wasn’t there. Instead I saw a man about my age, who motioned me to follow him. So I did (because why not), and it turns out he was roommate #2, whom I didn’t know even existed. He showed me around the apartment speaking both a little English and the easiest Chinese he could manage, which I still didn’t understand half of. Roommate #1, Lydia, arrived, and the three of us went to dinner. It’s a happy memory.

Sorry for not keeping this short. Essentially, I’m proud that I took the initiative to unhook myself from my tethers.

 

*On the way to the airport, just a few hours before my flight took off, my mom took me to school so I could drop off a late paper that I had finished that morning. Then I went to fucking China. My paper was a full summer late.

Day 3 of 7: What do they thank me for?

I accepted this challenge with a grain of salt, thinking: Challenges are silly and cheesy. Faux inspirational. But in reality, this feels a little like school (the better parts of it). I have a schedule (that I control!), drafts to turn in, and I know someone else will be reading whatever I write. Sounds pretty handy.

Prompt 3 of the Live Your Legend writing challenge asks: What do people thank you for? Also, what do you love helping people with? What would you be happy and excited to help others with even if you didn’t get paid? These questions are to get me thinking about the things I’m best at.

Things people thank me for. The list is pretty short. Yikes.

  1. Listening. Sometimes, people need to vent. And when I’m nearby, I usually let them vent to me. It’s a symbiotic relationship: they need someone to talk to, and I want to feel needed. Plus, I like when someone walks away from me feeling even a tiny bit better.
  2. Inspiring them to travel. This gets me excited. I love talking about travelling, and I love telling people my travel stories. I especially love the part at the end of the conversation that goes something like this,
    Person: Wow, Eva! You’ve done so much! I wish I could travel.
    Me: Where would you go if you could?
    Person: I’ve always wanted to go to Greece. 
    Me: Greece? You can do that. Easy. 
    For me, talking about travelling is akin to taking shots of espresso. I feel so energized. Remembering all the amazing experiences I’ve had, all the possibilities my future travels will bring–all these things make my brain happy.
  3. Helping proofread. I have a friend who exchanges poetry with me. We help each other proofread, brainstorm, edit, suggest, la la la. Editing with her puts me into hyperfocus. Nothing else exists, not even time. Only the work. This is what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls flow.

Now, I will demonstrate the simple magic of merging all the things you love to do into one, Super Dream Career.

Ready?

 

Traveling storyteller. Like Renate Stoller in Nancy Drew.

Look at that chair. That face!

That could be me.

 

Day 2 of 7: What makes you really angry about the world?

Today, I was given the prompt: what makes you really angry about the world?

Ha! So much. But let’s focus on one major issue: The environment. I hear all the time that it’s a complicated problem. Politics are involved. Where will the money come from? Climate change isn’t even real. 

Climate change is real, you idiots. You FOOLS. And the world has the technology to combat the issue.

Here’s what’s happening:

Earth: Hey, Humans. I can’t breathe. Can you stop destroying me? I’m dying over here. I have a fever. I’m cold in places I don’t want to be cold in. I’m hot in places I don’t want to be hot in. If you could all be a little nicer–

Humans: Your problems aren’t real. 

It’s so easy to be better to the Earth, and you already know how. Eat less meat, recycle, don’t buy plastic water bottles ever again, don’t drive gas-guzzlers, etc. SO EASY. Easy on an individual scale, that is.

What about big corporations? From where I stand, at the bottom of the pit, in the dark abyss, the top companies in the world are all about $$$.

When did greed become the code for modern society? Who the hell is at the very top of the corporate food chain going over the books, saying NO to solar, NO to wind, NO to more sustainable products? People are still going to buy shit. It’ll cost a bit up front, but you jerks have the money. Just fucking do it.

Jeepers creepers, guys. I tell ya.

What about you? What makes you angry about the world?

 

Day 1 of 7: Why I’m Here

On this blog, I mean. We don’t need to have an existential talk. This post is part 1 of a 7-day challenge from Live Your Legend.

I started writing this blog because I’m horribly unorganized. I have almost a dozen journals filled to the brim with rants, prose, doodles and poems.

On wordpress, all my [new] stuff is right here, either saved as a draft or published. I can directly see my progress as a writer and after a while, all my little posts add up to a large body of work. I don’t have to bring old journals with me wherever I go, because they’re all on my phone.

What I want, by the time this blog’s 1 year anniversary comes around, is a large body of writing that I can be proud of. I can look back at 2017, however shitty or great it turns out to be, and say, “I wrote.” Maybe I’ll cringe at all the commas. Maybe not.

 

 

A.E. Housman notebook poem

It’s been a while since I wrote here and I’ll tell you why. JOBS. Two of them.

This is newly written, and like my earlier stream of consciousness poem, I took a whole page and threw out some words.

here’s a legible version:

I to my perils
came not like A.E. Housman
clad in armor by stars benign.
I swam to them in my PJs
water logged, hair kinked
and trouble was a bonfire.
I was the mosquito and the jet was my blood meal.
Whoever shaved before 8th grade wished too hard for time to pass
and passing is the great curse and gift of prickly knees.
I dragged myself through marshes by tufts of leg hair
to which I gleamed a shining eye to Hope
I’d not trifle with a fleeting love
or mad money and me, the poet,
the victim of my own desires.
If I was a better friend, the last line
would have been my own design.

My 12 Steps for Poetry Writing

Below is a stream of consciousness poem I wrote an hour ago. Lots of imagery potential here! Today I thought I’d share how I usually approach poem writing.

  1. Write rough cut in pen or marker
  2. Run away from it! It needs time to rest.
  3. Look at it with an unbiased mind
  4. Say “hey this isn’t so bad”
  5. Say “except this right here is awful”
  6. Subtract
  7. Run away again
  8. Read it aloud
  9. Fine tune
  10. Publish or
  11. Put it away until I run out of ideas
  12. Return when I’m a better writer and revise

Advice for Recent College Graduates

Congratulations, 2017 college graduates! [and high school graduates and all the other graduates but this post is specifically for college grads] It’s been a long journey for all of you, and I know you just want to rest, and you might already have a dozen people lined up to give you advice. But if you don’t, here’s mine:

  1. Take a f^cking break. You probably gained 15 pounds since you turned 18 because you’ve been sitting on your ass writing shitty papers and teaching yourself advanced math for the past 4+ years. Get outside and remember the smell of strawberries, Mr. Frodo.
  2. Get a student job. Not a career job, not a job that requires 3 years of experience (which you won’t have) and willingness to stay at the company for at least one year (you won’t have this either). NO. Get a college student job. Like a barista or a waitress or take a job with a temp agency. Anything temporary that you don’t have to make a lasting commitment to because…
  3. You need to TRAVEL. Where are you, the USA? Take a trip to Canada or Mexico, whichever’s closest. Never been to NYC? Go there. Never been to NOLA? Go there. Are you in Auckland, New Zealand but haven’t been to the south island? GO THERE! Go somewhere you’ve never been before. I suggest traveling solo because you’ll learn a lot more about yourself and the world this way. You’ll find everything you need to know about travel at NomadicMatt.com.
  4. Avoid career traps. You know how one of your parents, or an aunt or uncle is trapped in their cubicle job? That’s going to be you. If you’re in the USA, you’re supposed to get a career job right out of college with a big company whose CEO has never heard of you. Or, you can run the other way into the arms of a small company who will watch you grow and help you achieve your ultimate goals. This is starting to sound like advice for myself…
  5. READ A BOOK because now you have time! Were you supposed to read Lord of the Flies by William Golding in high school but used spark notes instead? Read it now. Have you read all the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings books? No? The f*ck?!
  6. Learn more Spanish. Sorry, that one’s for me. But if you don’t know any Spanish and you live in the United States, you better hit up duolingo right now. I’m sure you already know 30 Spanish words, but learn 30 more. Take your new knowledge across the border. If you’re fluent in Spanish, learn Mandarin Chinese. If you’re fluent in Mandarin as well, you’re cooler than the rest of us so stop reading advice blogs.
  7. Finish that project. You know, THAT project.
  8. One more thing. Don’t spend all your free time seeking advice and taking dozens of personality quizzes online. You can’t know who you are by reading. You have to do something. Make something, go somewhere, put yourself in a position that requires decisions. You know enough about yourself In Theory. You need to know about yourself In Practice.
  9. That’s it. Leave me now, I must rest.

Star Wars Viewing Order for Newbs!

Today is a special day. May 4th. Star Wars Day! May the Fourth be with you! To celebrate, I wrote a Star Wars post. If you’ve never seen Star Wars, this post is for you. Surely there have been many people telling you which order they think is best to watch them in. Here’s the order I’d suggest to a newcomer.

Episode 4: A New Hope
Episode 5: The Empire Strikes Back
Episode 6: Return of the Jedi
Episode 1: The Phantom Menace
Episode 2: Attack of the Clones
Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith
Episode 7: The Force Awakens
Rogue One

“Wait, you mean 456, then 123, then 7? Then a movie that isn’t an Episode? What?” Yes, that’s the order they were released in. If you’re going to get into Star Wars, the Release Order is the best way to go. This is the order that all original fans came to love that universe by, and it should be celebrated. Some people will tell you to watch them in the storyline order. DO NOT DO THIS! You get the least interesting 3 films first, and the true spirit of SW LAST. NO!

Now, for anyone who doesn’t want to watch all the movies and simply wants a gist for what the universe is, watch Episode 4: A New Hope. You get the original whiny Luke and his power converters, Leia and Han in their prime (plus Chewy, R2-D2, C-3PO and YODA) and the story that started a franchise.

For anyone who just wants to see a cool action movie, watch Episode 7: The Force Awakens. It’s new, the graphics and sound design are spot on, and it’s a lot more racially balanced than the previous films. We get to watch Oscar Isaac AND John Boyega. Plus, John Williams’ brilliant score.

Rogue One can be appreciated by anyone who hasn’t seen Star Wars before, but it’s best for fans. For example: blue milk. Anyway, Michael Giacchino’s score is not Classic SW but it’s still good. I mean, he also scored the TV series Lost, Pixar’s Up and Ratatouille among many many others. Still, the iconography isn’t the same. Watch another one first.

So you’ve seen all the films in order. Now what? When you finish Rogue One, go back and watch A New Hope. Rogue One is the story that happened JUST BEFORE A New Hope, and really ups the stakes of the 1977 film.

This whole Which To Watch First problem is going to be even more complicated when the Han Solo movie comes out. But for now, I’m very much looking forward to Episode VIII: The Last Jedi. December 15th!

Running into Old Friends

There’s nothing like running into an old friend to make you realize how behind you are. Today I saw an old friend [literally, last I checked he was 65 and that was a few years ago] who I hadn’t seen in a long time. He asked “so, did you finish your book?” And I wasn’t sure which book he was referring to, because there have been so many. But my answer was “no” because I haven’t finished a single book in my life.

B.O.O.H.O.O.

That’s okay. I finished my application to the Poetry Foundation competition a few days ago and that gave me some much needed momentum. I mean, I finished something. I worked on that damn thing almost everyday for a month and a half and I finished! So, I’m getting back to work on Sort of Super. Maybe I’ll become addicted to finishing books and then I’ll be able to go through my collection of rough drafts and….

yeah I’m getting ahead of myself.

Don’t Look Inward Whatever You Do – quick write

Don’t Look Inward Whatever You Do
Doug said to look inward
but it’s winter there.
He doesn’t know I can swallow a whole snowman
and my belly stays fat until I go to the equator.

The doctor put a stethoscope on my chest and said
she heard a black hole purring.
I worry science doesn’t know whether
one comes back from that.

Who knew Dr. L was also a court stenographer?
She said Quiet Let Me Dictate
I said Sure and heard
“I know you in the black.
In the caves between pixelated dreams
I can steal you anytime”
I said Shit Doc What Do I Do
and she was like
“don’t call me Doc”
so I said, “just tell me how to fix this”
and she hypothesized
“if the core of your persona grows in a terrarium
you should drink 3 buckets of water a day for a week to drown any evil roots”
I don’t know where she got “terrarium” but long story short
NASA’s bringing me down to Huntsville, Alabama on Thursday
which is very far away from Doug.