Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Your red Triple Five
Soul hoodie, amusement at
its fit falling
just above my knees.

Space that used to be mine
upper left nook that I molded in
to without effort. I fell in love with a

A drive. you took my hand
in yours like you needed to be
near me. I fell
asleep against you. Three hours later
you had
not yet let go.

Admiration in your gaze
watching me.
I sat across from you
eating semi-raw,
undercooked ramen--the
only way you knew I ate them.

Halloween. Hours of preparation secured
my tiara. "Bobby pin" significance.
Urgency. you pulled me
in to you. Ripping--no tearing, it off. Freeing
long, black curls against naked skin.

Friday nights balled under blankets
on your couch. You always let me
have the outside. Your favorite way
to hold me.

Racing you out of the driveway
in the morning.
Side mirror "I love you's."

Two clotted blots of black on
your white button down. Vulnerability
in the craning of your neck--straining
to hear me over fireworks.

Firmness. You carried
me, cradled. You carried me
everywhere, careful. I'd remind you
I wasn't
so fragile.

Nursing home shifts. Messed hair,
chapstick, white scrubs. The way
you said, "You're beautiful," newly. Like
it was the first time every time.

Camels and Acqua di Gio--
violent inhalations.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Letter to myself

Dear Natasha, (age 17)

Please remember not to judge people at face value. Looks aren't everything and yours will fade. Know that the unrelenting pain you feel when you think of him will end. It will take three years, but you will stop loving him. He, however, will not stop loving you and he will do everything in his power to remind you of this. Be strong. You will throw away every picture. You will also throw away his basketball shirt, his lacrosse shirt and his football shirt. Find something else to sleep in. Don't makeout with complete strangers, you're not that kind of girl. Stop selling yourself short, give yourself only to those who inspire you. Let people in. Don't be so cynical about life and love. Quit going to bed with your makeup on. Try not to be so impulsive...with your spending, with your choice in men, with your lifestyle in general. It's not healthy. You will be the other woman. Don't let it happen again. You'll give one too many eulogies, prepare yourself for the worst kind of heartache ever imaginable, you'll piece it back together eventually. Family is forever. That is unconditional. They will always love you, when you forget this (and you will), all you need to do is ask because sometimes you just need to hear that someone loves you. Turn your cell phone off at night. When you go to bed, so does your phone. No one important will text you in the middle of the night, and the ones that do only do so because you leave it on. No, you didn't love Eric, but let him down easy. Consider his feelings as if they were your own. You and Justin are incompatible for the long term. It doesn't matter how much your mom liked him or how much he will compromise to make you happy. In college you'll find your soulmate. Her name is Francesca. Smile more, strangers think you look like a bitch. They're right. Slow down, once you get going you tend not to stop. Your body is tired, let it rest. Go to more poetry readings. Save your Kenneth Koch anthology in a safe place. Put your great-grandmother's diamond in your safety deposit box. Damnit, stop procrastinating. Surround yourself with people who truly know you, who want to get to know you, and who accept you for you. Ask questions. Curiosity is knowledge, don't ever forget that. You'll never stop learning, appreciate this. Stop collecting half-filled glasses of water in your bedroom. When it matters most, be sure to say how you really feel. You won't, but still promise to try. You'll stop writing for a little over a year for several reasons. These are not reasons. They are excuses. Know that you will snap out of this and begin writing again. Lastly, wait for someone worthy. Someone who will be the best part of your day. Someone who will make your dreams his dreams and vice versa.

Natasha (age 22)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Daffy Duck in Hollywood

Donald Hall once said, “There is nothing like hearing the poet’s voice. The entryway to poetry is the beauty of its sound. Sound persuades us of its authenticity and prepares us to receive the subtlety and power of its emotion."

Hearing a poem and reading a poem are two entirely different experiences. In my final workshop class last fall, my professor insisted that we read our poem aloud first and then someone else in the class would read it after. I'm not sure I liked his approach, how would someone else know how to read my poem, know the proper pauses at which to linger, or know which words needed to be emphasized? Needless to say, I didn't enjoy listening to my own words read aloud, back to me-- it was as if someone was inside my head, retelling myself of my thoughts already thought. It's not until you hear your own thoughts read back to you that begin to hear yourself, sometimes even for the first time. Every writer has a voice, a style, a rhythm--and I began to hear my own.

I was talking to my friend, Griffin, who has a tendency to insert asides into our instant messaging conversations. Every now and then he'd narrate himself, his actions or even his thoughts. I find myself entertained by his random insertions of these asides and told him that I've always wanted to write a poem based solely on asides. Although when I think of an aside I immediately think of a soliloquy and just would not know where to begin writing. So I began to research writing in the style of the dramatic monologue, which focuses on just the writer's thoughts and perspective with no influence of any outside voice, so there is no dialogue. The writer's speech or commentary is written with the idea of an "implied" audience.

I looked for an example of such a poem and read several, although I enjoyed John Ashbery's "Daffy Duck in Hollywood," the most. It's long and at first seems like just a constant barrage of images and thoughts that are scattered and unorganized. But there is something in the chaos of his speech that is inexplicably captivating and relatable. My favorite lines (54-57) of this poem make me feel like I could have written them myself, Ashbery's universality here is so appealing:

I have
Only my intermittent life in your thoughts to live
Which is like thinking in another language. Everything
Depends on whether somebody reminds you of me.

I admit that I'm not yet prepared to write a poem of that caliber, with such an honest voice as Ashbery's. But writing a dramatic monologue is certainly on my to-do list. The idea of voices in poetry reminded me of a collaboration poem I wrote last year with my best friend, fellow poet, Francesca Pestano. Originally an assignment in class, we decided to write this collaboration poem as prose, something we both struggled with. In this poem I hear my voice, I hear her voice and in certain instances--because our words in English didn't suffice, I hear the lines of tagalog. We felt that writing in our native language worked for this poem, on levels that we couldn't make English work. Many of our peers, (writers and friends) jokingly say that we're the same person, with few but important differences. When we read this poem in class together, we divided the lines intentionally and it sounded like a well rehearsed spoken word segment. After we read the poem the first comment we received was that our voices were indistinguishable. Our classmates, who had been reading our poetry for three months, could not tell who had written which lines--and we were speechless with disbelief. This is a poem we've been meaning to edit for quite some time now, but I'll share it with you as it is. It's a melding of our own experiences, of both happy and painful memories from past relationships. I took a picture of the draft that I wrote by hand and xerox copied for class, we felt that hand-writing it made it more personal, almost like a journal or diary entry.

I know some of you can't honestly read that, so I'll type it out for you. Your thoughts are always welcome.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Okay. Here I go. Your last kiss, not as innocent as the first. Like ours, was it? Sticky-sweet-lingering-kisses [inhale] and-kiss-again-kisses? Sabihin mo sa akin, because I've been waiting to hear the words. Momentary lapses of weakness. Relapse. Rewind. To take you back. To those memories. Don't say I never gave you anything. The lake. Salty breeze embraces your skin. Icy waters rush against the dock. [pause] Rewind. Our camping trip to Wisconsin. The self-made fire. Flames falsify shadows that weren't there. It wasn't even what you said. It was how you said it. Facing me. Breathing me in. Like love didn't exist until that moment. I wish I could tell you how you made me feel, but anything cliche will take away. Mahal kita, at walang iba. We don't know what euphoria is until we fall from it. But I didn't fall. Out of nowhere, you just let go. I thought I was holding on. But I guess not hard enough. I didn't even feel it slipping. Right through my fingertips. You let me go. Those sticky-sweet-kisses? Two orbicularis oris muscles in a state of contraction. That's all. Tapos na ako dito.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Correct me if I'm wrong

but you can't miss someone you've never met. Right? (So why bother saying "I miss you," in the first place?)

Ah, never a dull moment.

Monday, September 22, 2008


People often ask me what the hardest part of writing a poem is. My poems almost always stem from a memory. An image, a sound, a fleeting thought even, provokes a sort of inspiration that ties past to present. A sensation familiar to something else, of someone else also inspires me. I then try to make sense of the blurred boundary of what was and what is. I manipulate my memories to rework it into something else, wondering what really happened. This attempt at manipulation allows me to compose the memory I wish I'd had, although that is sometimes simply unattainable. The hardest part of writing, for me, is the conception of a title. I know some writers that start poems with their title, unable to continue with the actual poem unless a title is chosen. I know others that write out the poem first and then choose a title. I also know some writers who write out the entire poem first and always select a significant line in the poem as their title. The title is the first impression made upon the reader. It sets the tone, alludes to its context, and begins the story about to be told. A title must be chosen carefully, so as not to discredit the poem. My titles are usually synonymous with the meaning of the poem in my eyes. It is rare that I write a poem and leave it untitled. In today's instance however, several titles came to mind when writing this poem, but nothing proved sufficient. I wrote this poem on the train today, heading home from class. I began writing as the train pulled out of Union Station and finished just before my Lake Forest stop, about 55 minutes altogether. It's also very rare that I share the very first draft of any poem, especially only hours after it's written. I know that a train ride might seem like a short amount of time to write a poem, but on occasions like these--when my need to write is urgent and spontaneous, I can produce work almost immediately. I'm leaving this poem untitled for the reasons already stated above. I suppose I'll leave it up to the readers to take it upon themselves to title it as they see fit, to take the poem as their own, to make sense of their own blurred boundaries.

I woke a remembered montage
of days disrupted and recollected.
Disruptive more than

My memories enjamb
my present. Paus-
ing intentionally on
my mind's scratched
surface, the needle plays--

[sun stricken water
fights watched by
curious eyes through
green sheathed curtains.]

[your footfalls in
the hall, you crawl
into bed beside me; seventeen
missed calls.]

the superimposition of
marred befores invade
my unhappened afters

the once soothing strokes
of the piano slow post
climax. the lyrics go
unheard. the omission of velvet
notes strain.

chapped lips purse
subversively, hushing the
rivulets of sweat
and sound.

the crescendo falls.
the needle searches.
the record spins. silent static.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

It's a boy!

It's really not. I ran out of work yesterday and headed to Dominick's to pick up a balloon for my best friend. Last week was her 23rd birthday but she decided to celebrate it a week later because there were too many scheduling conflicts. Anyhow, with a firm grip around a Dora The Explorer balloon reading "Feliz Cumpleanos," another balloon caught my attention. This bright blue balloon had a smiley face on one side and then in continuous lines on the other side, it read "It's a boy!" Now of course I had to get the congratulatory baby balloon. It's also part of an inside joke we have.

Previously mentioned balloon tied tightly to a notch in my backseat.

A best friend running late should always bring cupcakes.

She didn't read the balloon, but almost died laughing when I pointed it out.

Jacky and I at Big Bowl.

Those of us that chose to sit on the inside had no way to get out. Francesca thought it might be easier to go under the table. On her way back to the booth, she got stuck underneath the table.

True story:Our waiter had to move tables so she could get out, one of the highlights of my week.

So those of you that know me well know that I am obsessed with green beans. If you share my affinity for the green bean I highly recommend the Sichuan Pepper Green Beans at Big Bowl. Spicy!

What's one surefire way to kill time to make the food come faster? Picture taking, of course!

Francesca. Natasha. Jacalyn.

Herro, do you rike fortune cookie?

Post dinner picture taking. (It doesn't end.)

Clarks love right there.

Lindsey loves bofts. Ha.

I tried to take a cool picture-mirror-reflection shot, but it didn't quite work out.

So after Big Bowl we headed to Soundbar (lame) so that we could get our drink and dance on. I didn't drink because I knew Francesca wanted to and since she drove her car, I was responsible for driving us home. Plus, I don't need the extra calories! After Soundbar, Fran and I were famished and were then coerced into heading to our favorite post-clubbing restaurant by her boyfriend's friends. Her boyfriend, Tony, had to work early in the morning so he didn't join us and his friends took us out to dinner at 4am. Not really dinner though, huh? Chinatown's Three Happiness is the only restaurant that is capable of satiating such hunger pangs. The smaller one on Wentworth, not the big one across from the public parking lot. If you haven't been there I highly suggest you go. NOW!

We ate ourselves into a food coma. This is everything we couldn't eat! Crazy, I know.

I think that's all I have for now. We got home at 5am and slept for barely two hours until our alarms went off simultaneously at 7:45 am. I had to be at work at a quarter to nine this morning and guess who sat in traffic, therefore resulting in showing up late to work. My brain is fried, my body aches from dancing in four inch heels, and I'm starving! I haven't eaten since our Chinatown binging session in the wee hours of the morning. Hopefully I can try to resolve one of those ailments. Until then...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Photography and Paramnesiac Lover

I really wish I had time to pursue my interest in photography--to take classes, take photos, etc. I have mirrors on the wall my bed is up against and I love looking at them. Not necessarily "at them" like I'm looking at myself, but at them because I admire their circular shape for reasons unbeknownst to me. As soon as I sit up in the morning, I see my reflection in these mirrors placed across my wall. I love mirrors and the way in which you take a photo, the flash bounces off of them--giving you a distorted image of yourself through a simple manipulation of light.

And so, I took these pictures. I laugh as my basic HTML skills come surfacing back to me as I post these.

Moreover, as the apparent shortening of daylight only increases, I'm suddenly plagued with lists. Lists of books I want to read, (but probably won't get around to until after graduation) which include Federico Fellini's Book of Dreams, Aldous Huxley's The Doors of Perception, and Wyndham Lewis' reprinted editions of Blast I and II, to name my top three, or rather, four.

There is also the list of things I should do, those of which include editing my cover letter and resume, filing my change of address so I can vote again, and lastly--one task that stems solely from procrastination--ordering more contacts online. I only have colored contacts now and I don't enjoy wearing them everyday. I've actually been wearing my purple glasses for quite some time now because I don't want to wear the colored lenses, and I can't find my dark rimmed glasses. The colored lenses are thicker than your usual clear contacts so they're uncomfortable after hours of wear, and also, on a more superficial note, I don't like looking like "that" Asian girl. You know which one, the Asian girl with stick straight locks whose hair color shimmers in the sunlight--a color, mind you, that is not found in nature. That Asian girl with the highlights and bright blue contacts. My colored contacts are gray and look natural--or so I'm told.

I think I should add trying to stay focused in my blogs to my list. Which I'm finding nearly impossible to do, and I apologize. For years I've noticed several eccentricities in my writing--namely that I tend to write in stream of consciousness. And so I can't imagine as a reader what this must be like trying to read my blog, but I cannot censor or edit the way I write, if I do then it is not my own, not my words, not my ideas, not the way my jumbled thoughts roll around in my head and onto this blog.

Back to my rant about lists--there is the list of what I call the I Wish's...(here are a few)
  • I wish I didn't buy my tC last January. She's beautiful and I love her but I'm realizing the purchase is hindering my current plans to move out. I'd prefer not to have to pay rent AND a car payment, but it's too late now. The only thing I can do is increase my payments in the hopes of paying it off within the next year.
  • I wish I took one more poetry workshop class. At UIC you're only required to take 210, 490 and 490 to declare it as your concentration (490 must be taken twice, preferably by two different instructors). I really feel like there's still so much to learn, especially in contemporary poetry. I also feel like I have new perspective in my own poetry and would love a room full of fellow writers to give me feedback.
  • I wish simply to have more time. Lately I've been getting a lot of flack for not being able to hang out or spend time with the people in my life. Lunch dates, dinner dates, birthday festivities, you name it...it's not that I don't have the time, it's usually just the day it falls on or the time--that I'm already obligated to be somewhere else. Yesterday I was asked to have lunch downtown and when I explained that I wasn't going to be downtown because I had work to do, I got a text that read: "I've been hearing that a lot lately." I know he didn't mean for it to come off rudely, but I did feel a little guilty. This semester has been a lot of work, the most work, actually--especially since I'm trying to graduate with at least a 3.0. Just give me three months is all I can say.
Lastly, I finished a poem today...a new poem! It took about a week for this first draft to get where it is, but I know it's not completely done. It's done for now though which is why I'm posting it, I'll come back to it after I give it room to breathe, give myself room to breathe. Anyhow, I'm a nerd and am absolutely excited. I know what I was trying achieve with this poem, but let me know what you think. Oh and, another aspect about my writing, as well as my poetry is concerned, is that I am downright personal. I believe that good writers write what they know. I enjoy and admire the no-bullshit-type of writing, it's the best there is. Of course, I try but struggle a lot with this.

Paramnesiac Lover

Open windows welcome
Fall through our
filtered screens sectioned.

Eye-liner stained pillow cases
crease--in a spun gown
of sheets I lay.

A few more moments, have I
been here before?

I extend an arm lovingly
to embrace insensate
pillows beside me.

Inhaling to when
your skin against mine boldly splattered
onto my taupe hued mornings.

You kiss me--kissed me, your secrets as
I promised not to tell. Cross my heart

Your thumb pauses, possessive--
over my throat, fingers then
tangling themselves in black strands.

Hours were lost in our jigsaw
mornings. Taut skin sensitized under
thin cotton layers.
800 thread count.

You loved the way my foot
still arched in flats. I loathed the
taste of your cigarettes in my mouth.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Frame of Reference

I wrote this poem last September in my English 490 (Advanced Writing of Poetry) class. I've been trying to rework it but I'm not sure how I feel about it yet. I woke up this morning and wanted to edit this specific poem because a year ago it meant something entirely different to me. And I wanted to change it, not completely, but enough to tell a different story than originally intended. Let me know what you think. If you want to see the original, just ask.

Frame of Reference

Air conditioned
air attacks my
exposed neckline as

slideshow images of
the city morph in
to more rural shots.


In one particular
scene I
catch a glimpse of towering,
splintered wood whose bolts and
wiring coax me back
to a sunset on a hill.

POP. 3700

Subtle desperation. In the way
you held me
up against you.

Forceful, aggressive. Your
wanton lips inhale mine, inquisitive.
Searching perhaps for an answer
that I--

Rows of posts extend, impose--hovering. The hard
ground beneath us is
judgmental. But still your
thrusts saturate me, not like
they used to--
If you see something,
say something.

Buzzing, humming lines of electricity live.

I stare directly at them.
At you, at them.

you feel foreign.

It was the realization of knowing
the difference between
fucking and making

I know what it was for

It was. It went.
It was
the first time we fucked.
It was
the first time I knew
I no longer had
your answer.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Detours. Rain. Relocation. Changes. And a list.

WARNING: This post is a rambling of everything on my mind today. And I mean everything. I get carried away from time to time and lose focus a lot. It is what it is, I need to get some things off my chest. Don't say I didn't warn you.

I'm sitting at my desk staring out at the unrelenting rain. I don't really mind the rain, I actually find it soothing. I had to take a couple detours to work this morning, my main route which included Rte. 60 was closed because of flooded areas, I decided to take Rte. 21 all the way to Half Day Rd. Since we're located within in a shopping center, the faculty parks in the private lot in the back of studio. To get to this back lot I have to take an off road. Approaching my usual turn off of Half Day Rd, I notice a sheriff with flashing lights, thinking maybe he's just patrolling traffic--making sure the cars are cognizant of the inclement weather and not speeding. Nope, he was definitely trying to let us know that the road was a little flooded. Stupidly, I turn my car onto the side road and feel the resistance in my tires, I drive a stick-shift so everything is more pronounced (to me at least). I actually argue that you have more control of a manual car, especially in the winter--which I love driving in. But
ahh, I'm beginning to ramble. Before I know it, a wall of muddy water blankets my windshield and I grip the steering wheel more closely, my right hand down shifting from third to second gear. It's over in seconds but my little tC handled it well. I'd much rather drive in bad weather than in bad traffic, I'm incredibly impatient when it comes to sitting in traffic, perhaps a downfall of having bought a manual car. But with bad weather comes bad traffic, funny though how most people seem to forget how to drive in rain...or any kind of precipitation there is.

I'm at the dance studio, staring blankly at my
iMac and for the first time today I'm by myself--no parents, no students, no one waiting. It seems the rain today has caused a lot of problems with students and parents trying to get here for Saturday morning classes. One of our instructors who lives downtown has been sitting in traffic for three hours now. I say now because she just called me with an update: having been forced to exit the Edens (it's flooded) onto Caldwell, she's now been notified that Waukegan Rd. is being closed as well. She shouts at me (not at me, but to me) in frustration on the phone, laughs and then apologizes. I've encountered my own aggravations with the Edens because of ongoing construction this summer, but nothing like this so I can only imagine...

So Saturdays are my long days here at the studio, but I enjoy them for several reasons. First of all, we have the
Pre-Ballet and Tap classes this morning. The girls are just adorable. I had to fit ballet slippers on a student today who was complaining about an uncomfortable fit in her previous slippers. I had her stand as I adjusted her slippers and saw the relief in her face as I fumbled with the noodles and straps. She walked around and did some movements to test out the fit and I'm happy to announce that she was much, much more comfortable. Her mom thanked me over and over again for my help, I smiled in appreciation.

In the middle of typing my paper for my Italian Cinema class, (due in 2 weeks, but I like to stay on top of things) one of the girls headed to Jazz stopped by my desk. I greeted her and said hello and she stood there smiling. I asked her if she needed anything, thinking she needed a bottle of water or a
band aid--and she shook her head. "Did you just come up here to visit me?" I asked jokingly. And she said, "Yes, I hadn't seen you in a while so I just wanted to say hi." Oh, how sweet.

All throughout the day these random instances happen and I love them. I met with my advisor this week to discuss my plans post-graduation. I told her that I was already job hunting--a task that I'm finding to be exciting and discouraging at the same time. Unfortunately the job market is not looking incredibly promising, but I have hope. My field of editing/proofreading/writing still provides great opportunities but not necessarily in the locations I had in mind. "I know you, Tasha," she began, "and I just want to throw this out there...but your field really is in New York City." She went on to explain that it's just an option and the more and more we discussed it the more and more anxious I grew. I thought to myself how amazing it would be to just pick up and start over somewhere new. Although it's not my first choice, it's currently in position #3. Back to my story, I was talking to my advisor about my resume and my job and told her everything I do at the studio. We got on the subject of non-monetary rewards, not my sole criterion in a position, but an important one nonetheless. I explained to her that I experience a high amount non-monetary rewards at my job now, it really is fulfilling. I can't help but feel accomplished, needed, and looked up to when I leave. With plans to leave here by December, I'm certainly growing nostalgic.

This past month has been rather overwhelming, stimulating and insightful. I'm realizing the value of an education, not just in the academic sense but also just in life's lessons. Recently I've been cutting people out of my life, doing away with the excess baggage, if you will. The relationships I have with the people in my life now are significant and I value that.

What else? Oh, I had difficulty sleeping last night and made a list of things. And I pause before I tell you what it was a list of, fully realizing now that it's going to sound incredibly vain. I made a list of things I just learned about myself, as well as things people have noticed about me. I think it's entertaining when people notice something about you that you didn't realize before and then you catch yourself doing it. I'm always thrown when someone says I've changed or I look different. I think it's because we don't really notice changes in ourselves, or maybe because we don't see the changes in ourselves the way others see them in us.

Anyway, I present to you the list:
  1. I don't sleep at the top of the bed. My head doesn't rest where the pillows are, which is at the top of the bed. I tend to sleep lower than that, my head rests just below the bottom of where the pillow ends.
  2. I fall asleep on my stomach and wake up on my side almost 95% of the time. I can't fall asleep in any other position other than on my stomach. I wake up in the fetal position almost every morning.
  3. I moan in my sleep. (I'm not sure about this one, but I'm pretty sure I don't.)
  4. I play with my hair when I'm reading. Like, non-stop. (I caught myself doing this after someone had mentioned this to me and I was shocked by how much I do play with my hair when I read.) I think it's also because my hair is getting long, I'm a little excited.
  5. I've taken practically every English class UIC has to offer that I can't remember the last time I read a novel assigned for class. I'm going to say sophomore year. Okay, okay, I read, I'm not a total slacker, but I mean I haven't read an entire novel from open to close for a class in years.
  6. Even without having read the assigned readings I still partake in thoughtful discussions and write meaningful papers. Ah, the tricks of the trade. I'm certainly grateful for my education, but sometimes after reading a novel three times you just lose interest altogether.
  7. I don't workout any where near what I used to a year ago today. Last September I started my hardcore diet and exercise routine in preparation for my sisters' upcoming nuptials. As of today, I've lost 39.3 lbs. Crazy, I know. I'm at the point where I've stopped gaining weight no matter what I eat. I'm serious. This could be bad. Instead of working out 6 days a week for three hours, I now work out three days a week for an hour each day. Eh, I guess it could be worse.
  8. I blog about every damn thing. But hey! I'm still writing, and that's always a good.

Friday, September 12, 2008

...because I'm out of excuses not to write

First things first, I can't remember the last time I wrote anything that wasn't school related, wedding speech related, or even remotely significant. And as a writer, that's a devastating reality.

I was having a conversation with my brother a few weeks ago about my inability to write. "Fear and laziness," he began, "are the reasons why people don't do what they love, what they're passionate about." Immediately, I began to ask myself what I was scared of but could not think of any one thing in particular. Was I lazy? Absolutely, but not so much lazy in the sense that I lounge around everyday with no drive to write, no. I let his explanation linger for days and found myself growing increasingly upset, anxious and simply uninterested with writing altogether.

Once the fall semester began three weeks ago, I immersed myself in classes, making the resolution to give this final semester everything I had. Eighteen credit hours is a lot to take on while working part-time, especially with the increasing
senioritis gnawing at me day to day.

This past Tuesday I was sitting in my British Literature and Culture class and the guy sitting next to me caught my eye. No, not that way. Our professor was talking about symmetry in Blake's
The Chimney Sweeper, from The Songs of Innocence and Experience. I wasn't taking notes, I had read Blake so many times that I was already familiar with his use of symmetry, I found myself bored. I looked around the classroom at the students who were eagerly writing every word...with anticipatory pens.

The guy next to me reached into his backpack and pulled out a small, bounded, black book. As he sifted through the pages I admired how they looked, yellowed, tattered, aged. He scribbled a few lines, none of which I could make out without staring like a stalker, and he closed the book and put it away. I was distracted. What was that book? A mini-
journal? A glossary of words he'd appreciated? I kept to myself and went on with my day. A few hours later I realized he was also in my Comparative Black Literature class, my last class of the day. I wondered why I hadn't noticed him before. Class began and I took my seat directly behind him. My friend Jacky struggled to stay awake by my side as my professor began to explain the concept of "double consciousness" by W.E.B. DuBois. He readjusted in front of me, leaning down to reach for his backpack. Again, he pulled out the black book, wrote something down and put it away. Suddenly jealousy came over me. Whatever this book was, a journal, a collection of words, literary facts,--it was important to him. I wish I had kept a book that contained newly learned thoughts, I love looking back on things I had written to evaluate what they mean to me now. I was regretful for the fact that I never thought of writing side notes in my own personal journal.

I got home that night and began reading poetry I had written a couple years ago. I couldn't help but think how elementary I sounded, in my words, thoughts and themes. I read the comments on my poems, the good, the bad, the mediocre. And there it was.

Fellow (poetry) writers can relate with me on this when I say:
  1. You are your worst critic. And even when it seems like nothing will ever be good enough, the truth of the matter is that your poetry is never finished. And many may argue with me about that, but it's the truth. That's the difficulty with writing poetry, we always want it to be something more, to say something else. I can write something today and love it for what it is today and just as easily hate it tomorrow morning. I have to learn to accept that maybe some poems just need to be put away and not looked at for a while so the growth process can happen and I can look at the poem with fresh eyes.
  2. Workshop classes can seriously fuck with your ego. As an English major with one concentration in Creative Writing of Poetry, I've taken every poetry-related class offered, including three poetry workshop classes. One day you're being praised as insightful and fresh and the next you're simply an imitation poet. It's hard work to write something new about something old. But you have to take the criticism and keep writing.
  3. It's so easy to stop writing poetry, so easy to feel uninspired. School. Work. Relationship issues. Excuse 1. Excuse 2. And excuse 3. Poetry is so easy to push aside and save for later. I was always so set in my ways, thinking that I had to be inspired to write. And of course, one has to certainly be inspired to write, but choosing not to be inspired is what made me lazy. I stopped noticing. I simply failed to see.
Part of me wants to thank that guy in my class, or err...classes. I've missed feeling that way about literature and poetry. I'm not sure that I'll start writing new poetry again, but I do know that there's a stack of my old poems waiting to be edited. I think I was scared that I couldn't find anything to write about, when so much was all around me. Which brings me to the reason I've taken up blogging (again). I used to keep a xanga account and blogged everyday. Completely and utterly pointless if you ask me, that was deleted years ago. And then I started to blog last May and struggled to find a way to say what I wanted to say in a way in which I was satisfied in saying it. Do you see my struggle now? Ha, but I digress. Any kind of writing is an exercise as well as an outlet. And knowing that I'm graduating in three months, I'm promising myself now that I'll never stop writing and blogging is the first step.