Monthly Archives: April 2013

Poetry is a sentimental thing. I try not to be, but I’m a sure sucker for sentiment. And this is a song that activates that part within me. Perhaps if you take a listen, you might feel something too.

Having grown up in Orange, California for the past thirteen years, I am ready to experience something new. This August I am moving to the big city Philadelphia, to finish up my undergraduate studies in music. Leaving home is something I have dreamed of doing for a few years now, and finally this year, my plans worked out and it’s really happening. As excited as I am, it is almost a bit scary and strange to know in four months, my life will be slipping into a completely new chapter that I might not even be able to imagine at the moment. And so, of course, I am starting to get sentimental about leaving behind home, family, friends, familiarity–it’s almost like I’m leaving behind my past, in a way.

Both the Coldplay and Frank Ocean versions of this song are phenomenal. But I feel Ocean’s lyrics are pretty fitting to my feelings these days:

“When we were kids, we hand painted strawberries on a swing
Every moment was so precious, then
I’m still kicking it, I’m daydreaming on a strawberry swing
The entire Earth is fighting, all the world is at its end
Just in case, an atom bomb, comes falling on my lawn
I should say and you should hear I’ve loved
I’ve loved the good times here, I’ve loved our good times here

Say hello, then say farewell to the places you know
We are all mortals, aren’t we? Any moment this could go
Cry, cry, cry, even though that won’t change a thing
But you should know, you should hear, that I have loved
I have loved the good times here, and I will miss our good times

Spaceships are lifting off of a dying world
And millions are left behind while the sky burns
There wasn’t room for you and I, only you, goodbye, goodbye”

I’ve decided to write a collection of poetry for my Final Writing Project in this course, using it as an opportunity to reflect on my childhood and teenage-hood. I will dedicate each poem to someone specific who has impacted me in some way, or has aroused any sort of deep contemplation while growing up. In these poems I will not just write about these certain individuals, but also write to. Besides the direct responses of my own included in the poems,  what I say about another will probably end up revealing more about me in the end. But even then, as Ocean sings, “You should know, you should hear…”, I will probably be able to say things with these poems that are difficult to say aloud.

I have a few specific people in mind, but I think I would like to begin and conclude the collection with poems more focused on me, so that there will be evident changes in character that readers can capture. For this reason, I might try to have the poems in a chronological order based on time–past to present. And now that I think about it, maybe I’ll even include something in there that’s from the future.

My poetry tends to be elusive, which is something I tend to purposely do for the sake of being less exposed. I do enjoy being less obvious and a little more mysterious, but I don’t think I will be able to write this way in every poem. I will aim to maintain a consistent voice, but perhaps as the times change within the collection, I can experiment with changing styles too. I’m going to have to venture beyond E.E. Cummings, Pablo Neruda, and Shinji Moon to gather new ideas.

There is so much freedom available in poetry, and so I am sure unexpected changes will happen in my inspirations and plans. But no matter how the writing turns out, I do want this to be a tangible gathering of my goodbyes to my California life as I’ve known it. When Ocean sings, “Every moment was so precious…”–that hits the sentimental me the hardest. Maybe one day I can look back on what is to be written and feel the same.


Cutie with the gelled hair – 2001

Your face is starting to elude my memory now, but almost any blonde-haired, blue-eyed third grader has got to be a cutie. Isn’t it weird that feelings actually exist at the pure age of eight? Twelve years later and I’m still a kid, but I do have to remind myself of the mental capacity of children.
Anyways, you always gelled your hair back, the dark crevices in between sections of hair like black streaks. It was a terrible hairstyle, and I grew up always, and still, disliking gel-styled hair. I can’t remember what you were like at all, but it must have made me forget about the top of your head.
That year my parents were gifted a religious book titled something like, “What You Say is What You Get”. When they told me it was absolutely true–that what I would say is what I would get–I was elated. So one afternoon while I waited in the car for my dad, I cleared my little throat and to no one proclaimed, “One day I will marry [you]”.
I’m cringing at that memory, but I should be used to my drama and embarrassment by now. In the mean time, I’ve also gotten used to the fact that not everything my parents tell me is true and life takes more than words locked inside of a silver van.

You in the red polo – 2003

I can’t picture the fourth grade you without your summer-colored skin in a red polo. Again, I can’t remember what it is that made me crush on you, and it makes me miss a time when such things could happen without reason.
I still remember your birthday that year. It was supposed to be a happy day even though I didn’t see you. It was simply your day. But that morning I fought with my cousin and hid under the covers in tears. Later that day, my mom made me hold my cousin’s hand on a neighborhood walk. And like she would say many times before and after, “You’re such a good kid.” I don’t know how much longer I can keep that one up.
One time in high school my girlfriend and I jokingly sent you sexy text messages, and we waited anxiously for your reaction. We both laughed when you responded back with disgust, but I was kind of confused. The next year you came out.
You’ve moved to New York City, stopped wearing red polos, lost the baby fat, and found God and drugs. The last time we talked you were on a bus, escaping to Boston. It’ll be your birthday again in two days and I hope you don’t need to escape anymore.

My first slow dance – 2006

We slow danced to classic N’Sync: “God Must Have Spent a Little More Time On You.” I downloaded it onto my iPod that night, and for a while, listened to it before falling asleep. I can still remember the way you couldn’t even look at me because you were that shy. Or maybe I was that unattractive–it’s possible when I look at pictures from the time. In any case, I think you were my favorite to love in the most innocent and junior high kind of love.
It’s entirely your fault that from that point on, December has always reminded me of romance, or the lack thereof some years. That Christmas, our friend’s mom watched as we exchanged presents. Later she told me, “I can tell he really likes you by the way he looks at you.” That still makes my heart melt to this day.
I loved you in this way for almost three years, even when we weren’t together. We’re still friends, and things should have gotten weird last summer, but they didn’t. We went back to our junior high one night last June, lying on the cement ground where we used to sit for lunch. We looked up at what little we could see of the stars in Southern California, counting how many years it had been since we’d last been in that spot. The spot where seven years ago, two counselors told us we couldn’t be holding hands on school grounds. I wonder how much more trouble we’d be in if they ever found out seven years later, we kissed right there. At least I didn’t hold your hand.

The angry one – 2009

Sometimes I still think this never should have happened. I was still trying to forget about my first slow dance from 2006 and you were always mad. Good thing you didn’t know who I was really thinking about, because you would’ve been furious. But rightfully, at that.
We don’t talk anymore but you became best friends with one of my childhood friends after we so thankfully ended. You found God when I lost Him, and when I saw our friend last month, she said you’re not so angry anymore. I sure hope so, because I still remember the time you slammed my car door in my face and followed me home. You told me my dreams were nothing but East Coast fantasies and I’ll have you know I’m transferring to a kickass music school in Philadelphia this fall with a scholarship. I hope you haven’t slammed any car doors or undermined anyone’s dreams, including your own, since then.

Summer fling – 2010

We met at a music camp in a humid and beautiful upstate New York that July. We found out we were both only children, and shared the same exact birthday, blood type, and little freckle on the center of our bottom lips. I tell myself that I started to like you on the bus ride back from that concert in Canandaigua, but I can’t be exactly sure why. It seems that my life lacks reason more than I realize.
One night we were sitting in the dorm’s game room by ourselves when an advisor came in and asked what we were doing. You said awkwardly, “Yeah, we’re just…hanging out…in here, all alone.” I face-palmed inside. A few times throughout that month, you texted me “I love you”, to which I never quite acknowledged, because you didn’t know what you were talking about. I was secretly satisfied though, finally having met someone who could be a little more embarrassing than me.
The last day of camp, I woke up at six to say goodbye, and as you made your way down the stairwell you told me you’d never forget me. I don’t think that’s true because you never talked to me again and the letter I sent you was returned. Sometimes I still wish I had those pictures of you falling asleep to Handel’s Messiah for sentimental value, but I’ve got more than enough of that without any reminders of you.

The real thing – 2010

At times I wonder what our lives would be like if you never got that haircut, because that’s when I started noticing you. And I noticed you first. You only started to notice me after I showed you the personal statement I wrote for college admissions, as if it was some kind of acceptance from you too.
We ended up in a serious relationship for nearly two years, and in that time, I seriously thought that was it. I don’t remember what it’s like to love you anymore, but even with the nasty words we can never take back, I’ll always remember our relationship fondly. We were so goofy and weird together, and I think everyone needs a safe place to unleash that side of him or her. Your family always welcomed me with kindness and love, and when you were seven hours away at school, they’d let me sleep in your bed when I couldn’t go home. I know you hated your school when we were together, but I think now you have the freedom to enjoy it, and now I have the freedom to go to my far-away, dream school.
We met up for breakfast a few months ago, and I wore my camouflage jacket to feel tough. I hadn’t seen you since our break up and I guess I was trying to protect myself, from sadness, or madness, I don’t know. But I didn’t need to. When I saw you, I knew you would never leave me mad or sad again–I would never love you again.
This past Valentine’s Day, you texted me a novel of your confessions. You didn’t know I was on a date, but it doesn’t matter because the guy never liked me like that anyways. You told me you still felt the same way, thought things could work out if we tried again. I was shocked, but I think that was the most I felt after reading all of that. I did feel slightly bad though, for isn’t it sad when someone whose world you once affected so deeply became a someone whose world you had no more impact on?

Somewhere you are not sleeping and
I’m not happy either, you know
It almost looks like I’m bleeding when I wash my hair
Hair so easily interlaced in fingers or forgeries
One day I’ll learn not to choose
The two of us are starting to disappear like this
so I tell myself it’s a beautiful fade
I think this thinking has become my religion
Unreal, but I’m praying to hell
And if the flames existed, I’d throw us in
You, me, and our mess could be the unholiest trinity
as if we aren’t already
But there will be no happy endings here
on the road where you always stop to tell me
I’d better get back, or be fucked, and how could you not know
that it has been done either way
I wonder who prays for the devil, who’s praying for you
The trees tell me they are gods,
especially the ones grown drunk, toasting to the sadness in your green liquor eyes
More like poison, I guess, as we slur our self-righteousness together
I’m trying to get back
Still, it almost looks like I’m bleeding and I am
I am a lot, but mostly not sleeping
All for longing
And how could I anyways, the resort of lost voices and songs
There is a science behind my crazy and I’ll make meaning out of
Like the flowers I pretend to wear on this pounding head
One last showcase before we part
The petals’ goodbyes didn’t have to be about you
But can’t you see?
The flames don’t exist anywhere, but in somewheres they do
Just don’t tell my mother who I can’t look in the eye anymore
that I’ve chosen burning over bleeding
I know I said one day I’ll learn not to choose but
this is what art takes
People unlike me make millions off of
people like you

Yesterday, my friend Alayne and I had lunch together. We talked about her boyfriend moving away soon, my plans for the summer, our shared classes. Then she asked me, “What’s your dream?”

I was a little set aback, realizing that no one asks this much. Instead, college students like myself usually hear questions like, “What are you going to do after graduation? What are you going to do with that degree?” My everyday life is an answer to these questions about short-term goals. Go to class, practice, teach. I’m living in preparation for something I can’t seem to answer right away.

After some hesitation I said, “I think I’d like to live in a big city…keep teaching privately, maybe go into music therapy or teach at a university if I get a doctorate…travel, wear nice clothes, eat good food. Find that someone I romantically and deeply connect with. And tattoos everywhere. “

But what is it that I really want out of these things? They seem pretty attainable when simply stated like so. Yet, I struggle, because there is, of course, more than first comes to mind.

My dream isn’t just to be in a big city where I can live on almost-gourmet foods. I want to be able to do this without any guilt at all. Maybe one day I will be able to eat Lays and steak and carbs and even think about pizza without berating myself.

My dream isn’t just to keep pursuing my music studies and find my secure place in the musician’s world. I want the be in different places, with different peers and teachers, to be challenged enough where I can look back and say, “I never thought I could do this.”

My dream isn’t just to wear nice clothes. It is to be able to love myself even when I’m not in my signature color. To feel confident even when I’m not in my best outfit.

My dream isn’t just to be tattooed, sleeves on my arms and legs. I wish I didn’t have to hide my tiny one from family. I wish my borderline red hair wasn’t borderline disapproved by my family. I wish people didn’t have to be condescendingly questioned for their bodies.

My dream isn’t just to find the right someone. Before I do that—I want to live knowing only I complete myself, and if I’m lucky, someone will come along to extend me. If I find such good fortune, I will then hope for familial approval, and not hope for the questions about marriage and kids, which are already starting anyways.

These are the things that make me a lofty dreamer. But in my lofty dreaming, I understand the world owes me nothing, and it is my call to achieve the attainable, and do my best for the unattainable.

I have heard of The Glass Castle being a New York Times Bestseller, but honestly wasn’t sure of the story besides the author’s nomadic childhood. I was imagining this type of plot to be one of positive energy. At this moment, I am still trying to figure out how Jeannette Walls herself is reflecting on these first few chapters of childhood memories. So far, I have found most of my own reactions to the memories negative, but with room to try to understand.

Any sensible person in our society would be appalled at the several cases of irresponsible parenting. I’d even go as far to say that it was irresponsible of the parents to ever be parents at all, that they shouldn’t have mixed kids into their dangerously messy situation. From the very first sentence, “I was on fire.”, I cringed a little inside, knowing there must have been something off in the scene. And that something off, of course, was Mom or Dad being inattentive while their three-year-old daughter stirs hot dogs over a fire. Eep. Later on, Walls explains her mom’s way of thinking: “Mom always said people worried too much about their children. Suffering when you’re young is good for you, she said. It immunized your body and your soul…”

My parents have raised me with a lot of protection, especially since I am their only child, and their only daughter at that. Because of this, I’ve become a pretty careful person, but do truly appreciate this way they cared for me. Even if it has been a bit over-bearing at times, I like being sensibly safe for the sake of optimal mental and physical health. This is my idea of sensibility–my reality–and reading about a life outside of what I know reminds me that, maybe, no one is right or wrong.

I sit here in my cookie-cutter home thinking of all the asshole moves on these isolated, desert parents’ part, but I don’t think I can even begin to blame them or anyone at all. Everyone of us is stuck in our own realities, a reality that may be a delusion to another. The nomadic life Walls presents in the beginning of her book may be a ridiculous life to me, but that’s all her parents have known. That’s their truth.

But despite the clashing truths of Walls’s parents and mine, I find that core human connection in her dad’s stealing her away from the hospital. He says, “You don’t have to worry anymore, baby. You’re safe now.” Although I don’t agree with his parenting, or him being a parent, or his lifestyle, this sentence warmed my heart. Maybe he shouldn’t have done and been a lot of things, but in this sentence I can feel the most basic foundation of being a parent, and a human at last: love.