Still Broken (but under repair)

It’s been four years. Ow. Four years, and by my own definition, I’m still broken. Still here. Still hopelessly at home. It’s difficult to know what to say. If you’d asked me, as I published my last entry on the Passenger Mentality, where I would be now, the answer would not have been at home, or at least, not at my parents’ home. It is both painful and embarrassing to admit it. But here I am.

This blog was designed initially to spur accountability, though as every failed blogger knows, one must first be accountable to themselves before seeking external pressure. Or at least that’s how it works for me. The opinions and pressures of the outside world push me deeper inside when I’m a mess, and motivate me once I’m cleaning things up solo. So, consider this me trying to clean up again. This time will be similar to the last, though perhaps a bit more casual and less planned. I want space to stretch and breathe, to relax my mind and unfurl the lessons without pretension. And honestly, perfectionism is a poison. It erodes my willingness to work because I know there will be more work. Again: ‘casual’ is the watchword.

I still plan to dig into things and philosophize and interrupt myself (don’t know that I can stop). I also still plan to document the steps I take toward becoming the adult people tell me I already am. Admittedly, few of those people see me sitting here on a yoga ball, bound in an Alice-in-Wonderland hoodie and Dark-Side Darth Vader pj pants, musing over my failings and successes since last I wrote whilst idly bouncing and listening to unnervingly eclectic music. So…failings and successes…

The short list is: I’m officially a freelance editor and I have a day job at a community college tutoring Communication (and previously writing); I have my associates degree and am pursuing a second over two semesters, which will be followed by a Bachelor’s in Communication (and possibly writing); I drive places I don’t know aided by Google maps and my phone (but I still can’t parallel park and refuse to go into the city); I’ve successfully maintained a five-year relationship; I’m learning how to actually cook and working through a recipe book; I meditate daily; and I’ve managed to deal with a lot of my mental baggage. On the flipside, I still don’t know how to handle my finances, deal with my medical paperwork (let’s be real: any paperwork), or make remotely enough to support myself; I have minimal accountability or discipline; my body is a mess; I’m high strung; and, of course, general life skills are still seriously lacking.

But hey, I’m not exactly where I used to be. Just…close.

So here we go. Again.

Broken Boomerang Learns to Fly: Act I (The remake)

 

Communicating Connections

“Fill up on language; gorge on it, then give it back as nourishment: new poems, better than Halloween candy.”

                          –Kim Addonizio (Ordinary Genius) 

Sometimes I think about teaching, about my Yaya and what remains of her in me. She was a teacher, an English teacher. My thoughts seek her out when I correct things, outwardly and inwardly. The number of times I debate asterisking corrections to peoples’ posts online is likely unhealthy in the most obsessive of ways. I wonder at her when I offer feedback or advice. For me, explaining is not a choice, not really. Explaining, explicating, extrapolating, exemplifying, expounding, exposing, expressing, teaching: call it what you will, I will do it. I cannot help it or stop it, it is compulsive and explosive, bursting free with bold insights and reflexive repetitions; the only things that bridles the desire are disinterest or exhaustion. If I know a topic, I will offer what I can to inform others about it. There is no single subject for which this is a greater truth than that of English, of writing. I could write about writing and read about writing until my fingers and eyes fall free, fleeing from the abuse of constant over use. I muse often over what words we, my Yaya and I, would weave together when speaking of writing, had we but the time to do it. Maybe someday, in some dream or some life yet to be lived, we will. We’ll rant and ramble, cutting each other off at every curb-clipping turn, one bombast racing the other to the finish line of every point about language and literature that we could link into one conversation. But then, that’s what communication is all about. That’s what language is all about. No, not beating one another to answers known by both. It’s about those links, the things that tie each individual thing to everything. It’s about connections.

What connects this self-indulgent post to the point of this supposedly narrowed blog? The obvious answer is me, but more specifically, my recent readings, my recent goals and dreams, a year set on progress, on becoming adult-esque, on reading and writing and being an editor. What connects this post to this blog? A group I joined today on Facebook, endorsed by fellow blogger Veronica Haunani Fitzhugh, focuses on critiques for writings of all kinds and what’s more, it actually guarantees feedback within 24 hours. Astounding, no? Stranger still, I felt more like giving critiques than getting them. It was refreshing and relaxing to reveal my thoughts on works with encouraging advice and questions. It reminds me why I am intent on being an editor and reinforces my claim to Yaya’s language-loving lineage. But again, why does that matter to this blog? The answer is hiding in the question. It may not matter for this blog, which is why I’m considering starting a new blog dedicated to writing, reviews, and editing, leaving the rest of my life to this one. Please, let me know what you all think, feedback from friends, family, and the far reaches of the Internet’s population is craved far beyond simply being welcomed. As it says below, I’ve shown you my words, now show me yours.

Edible Language

 “Reading is like food to a writer; without it, the writer part of you will die—or become spindly and stunted.”

                                       –Kim Addonizio (Ordinary Genius) 

I know I promised that driving post ages ago, but rather than forcing it and grinding out another insipid, Frankensteined mess trying to pass itself off as legitimate writing, I thought I would go with the flow of inspiration and offer up what greases the wheels of my mind today.

Contrary to popular belief, I am chronically under read. As I mentioned in Endless Academia, I hated reading for the better part of my childhood and was a miserable failure at it after that point. Now I adore it, but unfortunately, passion is still not enough to push speed and comprehension to the levels too many studies say someone like me should be at given my education. However, despite my deficiency, this year, I’m going to correct the failings of my literature-lacking past and catch up to the expectations that have always surrounded me. I intend to read one to two books a month (I wish I could manage more, but I doubt I will so rather than disappoint myself, I’ll stick to something feasible), at least three blogs a day, a minimum of a chapter a day of one of the far too many books I’m reading presently (the current count is seven), one short story, and four poems. As the introductory quotation states, reading is necessary for writing, though honestly, the relationship is more symbiotic than Addonizio suggests; without writing there is no reading and without reading, why write? Yet her point remains: reading makes us want to write. I am never so energized, so positively charged with the Olympian lightning of Muse-molded creation as I am when I’m reading. Naturally, not every book or blog will bring me to life-like that, but those that do move me internally and externally in turn, until emotions make a mask of my face so ecstatic that the psych-ward is suddenly on the table, until a hand puts its pen to parting pages with ink, unapologetic as it lewdly spreads them in a lusty smear of ideas. Yes, each action of inspiration happens in turn until my mind is emptily exhausted for the effort, but bathing in the afterglow of words well spent.

Today I read five blogs and one article. Several of the posts came from Eating the Pages,which I found Freshly Pressed. His words worked their way into me and birthed more of my own, both in comments and on one of the sites he references: Good Reads. On this website, a user can mark books they wish to read, read the reviews of those books written by other users, mark the books they’ve read, rate the books they’ve read, write reviews for them, note the books they own and even the editions. I spent a good deal of time going through it, though I am by no means finished. This is my accountL. Alexandra’s Good Reads’Profile. I intend to start writing reviews for the books I’ve read and those that I will soon be finishing, which will help me as both a reader and writer (“To learn, read. To know, write. To master, teach,” I’ll take two out of three and then pretend this blog constitutes the third). Not to mention that, frankly, I adore analyzing things and am indeed, the student that gleefully beams with appled-cheeks and eager eyes when a teacher announces an essay.

Literature-based analyses and essays are my favorite and when I take Lit. classes, I try to read all the books once through before the semester starts just to experience them as they are, then I read them again with a more analytical appetite as pages and assignments are doled out like daily rations. The rereading allows me to look at the complete work, rather than at its story and catching lines alone, it allows me to examine it without the impatience of “But what happens next?” There is something fulfilling about looking at a book again and breaking the whole into malleable pieces that become the playthings for inference and personal perspective. If you have never tried to analyze a literary work, I highly suggest it, especially if you do so through a lens (Feminism, Marxism, Deconstructionism, Symbolism etc.). You will gain more than previously possible just by prying open the words and peering at the implications that anchor them. Are there reoccurring themes? How many times did Nabokov refer to Humbert Humbert as an ape or beast? Where does Angela Carter’s root system in “The Smile of Winter” lead? What does the protagonist’s love of the sky say about his life? The best way to find answers is to ask questions. So please, go read, go write, go analyze and offer insight. When you’re done, why not come back and share what you’ve learned?

It’s Only Mostly Dead

I’m sure you’ve all been wondering what pit I fell into and whether or not it was truly bottomless. Well, it is the pit of Progress and Inspiration, and yes, I’m still falling. In between bouts of overwhelming vertigo, my descent has taught me a few things:

  1. When you are uninspired and/or burnt out creatively, it may be because you’re under-read. So instead of wallowing and accepting your fate, go out and find something to read.
  2. I am still a miserable failure at time management.
  3. I am still addicted to school.
  4. Finals week is still agonizing in light of #2.
  5. Just because I break self-imposed deadlines and regimens does not mean I need to abandon the project or activity they’re attached to (see: the blog that rose from the mostly dead).
  6. Making numbered lists is a self-perpetuating activity.

Anyway, this is an interim blog post until finals are actually over (my last day is the 10th). When I get back I’ll go into detail about my adventures in endless academia (past, present, and future), talk about my driving test (it’s this Friday), maybe touch on where my writing has taken me, and then reveal my epiphianic vision of where I now plan to take this blog (yay, narrowed focus!). Until then, I would like to apologize for my more-than-a-month absence and thank you for continuing to consume this little line in a much wider world of words.

Driving Me Crazy

Almost a decade ago when I was 15 years old, all my friends were getting their driver’s licenses and permits. Naturally, wanting to stay up with the in-crowd, I bounded over to my parents tail-a-waggin’ and asked if I could get my permit. The answer, contrary to what they say now, was a resounding “NO.” I asked more than a few times before eventually losing interest. After all, my best friend had just gotten hers, so, ultimately, I had little need for one.

The years slipped by unnoticed and suddenly I was 18 and Dad was demanding to know when I would drive. This was a couple of years after I had begun consciously collecting phobias. I thought about his question for a moment and realized just how thoroughly the concept terrified me. I had been so removed from thinking about it that the mere idea had me hiding behind walls of aggressive dismissal.

How could I, a girl who barely controlled her mood swings, let alone her life, be expected to control a ton or more of moving metal at high speeds on highways and back roads, bullied by the traffic teeming around her? It was too much.

But why did it scare me?

There’s a car downside up. There’s a girl half outside it, half in. There’s a girl, her insides half outside. She’s a puddle on a low tide beach of glass cubes and gravel, shining in a sunset of flashing blues and reds. It’s harder to hear than to feel. Everything muffled by her pained pulse. There’s a man, his edges indistinct, blurring into the blinding lights behind him. He doesn’t understand that she doesn’t understand.

He asks again, touching her. Did he ask if it hurt? Stranger danger! The childhood chant summons itself into the hollow hole of her mind. She wants to laugh. There’s not enough air to laugh. Why? What was on top of her? A glance up gained comprehension. The door was on her, off its hinge. The door was off its hinges, in her.

“Miss, you’ve been in an accident. Try not to move.”

Why does driving scare me?

Because my brain never stops writing. But rather than be a one trick pony, my innovative little brain started writing excuses on top of its frightful fiction, each as logical as the last.

“I’ll get a license when I go to college.”

“I’ll practice this summer when the roads are clear.”

“I can’t drive the Jeep while she’s using it to get to work.”

“I can’t practice if you keep loaning the car out.”

“I’ll get it when I have a car.”

Between 18 and 22, I drove a grand total of ten times. I hated it. It set flaming nails to my nerves and pounded them in with each passing car. How could I be expected to survive? An irrational fear that I would die in an accident at 23 (spoiler alert: I’m 24) tightened the tension and my grip on the wheel.

Fear mixed with a wounded pride when my brother got his license at 16. My brother is four years younger than I am. Worse still, was the discovery that of all my teachers, he was by far the best when it came to driving. Despite our fights and differences of opinion, we somehow managed to click while driving. It was a Goldilocks kind of thing. My mom was too hot, gasping, grimacing, gripping the door, and crying “Careful!” at every move I made. My dad was too cold, disinterested, ambivalent, and inattentive whenever we drove, more focused on his phone than the road. But my siblings were just right. My sister calmly corrected and talked, pointing out that I was doing fine and my fears were unjustified, though perhaps she was a touch too supportive. My brother was laid back but impressively aware, keeping up conversation while course correcting and offering advice I’d never heard before (“Don’t turn the wheel back into place, loosen your grip and let it slide back on its own so you don’t overcorrect.”). However, no matter how “just right” the meal is, it can’t last.

Eventually, our different mindsets brought our conflicts to the road as well. Like my dad, my brother lacks the ability to empathize with my worldviews. He doesn’t understand why I don’t just drive down and get my license. His logic (or lack thereof) is “Just do it.” Those words still make me cringe, regardless of what they’re referring to. Just do it. What on this planet or any other is that simple? More to the point, how could someone tell that to a person who was quite literally prone to anxiety attacks at the thought of driving and expect said person to not be offended? Offended is putting it lightly; I was livid. Nothing frustrates me quite so much as being misunderstood, and for him to think that it was so simple proved that he had misunderstood a great deal.

That said, months later I now stand on the verge of “just doing it.” As of August 25th I have my own car and drive to school with Mom almost every week. I’ve conquered driving back roads and highways, I’ve mastered not turning the wheel when I check my blind spots, and I’ve even parked in the garage next to Mom’s car without hitting it. Parking in general and backing up still pose a bit of a problem, though they are far from the monoliths they once were. Admittedly, I’ve never once attempted to parallel park. Presently, my issue, the last lap keeping me from the awkward photo-finish that is any form of identification, is yet another concept: driving alone. I’m comfortable driving now, to a degree, but so much of that has to do with the person in my passenger seat, the person who saves me from mind slips and calls out “Red light!” or “Blind spot!” the person who plays the pivotal role of failsafe, of safety net. I know that when I’m finally forced to do it alone, the anxieties will return, the unsteady lack of confidence that can be all too fatal.

I promised them the test at the end of October. I promised them the test when I got my car. I promised them so many things so many times. I promised myself. I feel the excuses behind me, see them pointing out exit strategies and pushing me towards the escape hatch.

But I have a lot to do.

But it’s Halloween next week.

But it just snowed.

But I am busy.

But I can’t do it right now.

But I can’t parallel park.

But I can drive.