Reflecting in Wait

With the end of every semester comes a period of reflection; at least it is for me.

This time last year, every day was at least 70 degrees and mostly sunny. I had just met three friends that would influence me to be myself in ways I hadn’t been comfortable with before. These friends and I would spend afternoons in the plush grass behind our apartment building, drinking and laughing and loving each other with open hearts.

I spend a lot of time thinking about how different things are now, only a year later; and I spend a lot of time thinking about whether this difference is good. This winter feels like it has withstood the strength of fall and spring combined to let us know she means business. I would like to fire her. Or break up with her. Or pack my bags and leave her unannounced.

Either way, I can’t help but envy the version of myself that existed one year ago; the version that was inspired to get to know herself instead of the version that’s trying to suppress her. As I write this, the sun tries oh so desperately to break through the clouds, and I, too, am trying.

Not too long ago, I wrote a poem about wishing winter away. I hope you all enjoy it.

P.S. This is our last blog post for a bit, but be sure to check in at the start of the Fall 2018 semester! Its been a pleasure writing for you all.

Jenna, Spring 2018 intern

***

I Do Not Love Winter Morning
Winter morning and I undress, cloth by cloth,

against the mildewed drop of the bathroom tile.

 

I flick the shower nozzle to boil, and rock–

an eager rock–heel, toe, then back

 

again as I wait for the frozen breath of her

early daylight to freshen in the steam.

 

She whistles a chilling note that bounces

with the sleet’s percussion on the sill.

 

It whips at the fibers of this drafty house, this

meshy skin, to shudder the walls awake.

 

My figure fades in the mirror as I grit my

teeth and pray the fog wrap its sweaty fingers

 

around winter morning’s throat and dissolve her

in its humid grip.

 

Winter morning groans that she’s lonely as I suckle

the leftover night-heat nestled in the corners of

 

my mouth. She thinks it playful when I melt her

from the cubicle and slips, sultry, down the drain.

 

Spring, my dear,

I echo the birds that hum of your arrival in my sleep.

 

Spring, my flower,

I fear I cannot pretend to love her any longer.

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The Helpers

As I scroll through the news feed on my laptop, I can’t help but feel drowned in the inundation of bad news. Whether it’s global political struggles or tragedies closer to home, each second I spend plugged in only serves to download every public predicament straight to my brain. Perhaps the answer is to throw my laptop out the window, but with increasing dependence on the internet for communication and work alike, it isn’t as easy as it sounds.

Fred Rogers of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood said, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” In the wake of peril, there are always people re-committing themselves to good deeds. These are the people we all aspire to be, the people we think that we would be if catastrophe were to strike. But where are the helpers? They certainly aren’t on my newsfeed.

Well, Mr. Rogers told us where to find them. We must look for them.

I simply Google “good news” and click on the first link and there they are. There is a man who harnessed technology to help his grandmother speak again, and a boy with autism who built a Lego model of the Titanic so beautiful it is now in a museum. The website tells me that today, thirty-one years ago, someone jumped out of a plane to save an unconscious skydiver. The helpers are here. They may not be as visible as the imminence of war or impending political scandal, but they are here.

Pain can breed passionate, emotional poetry. But this week, write a poem from a place of contentedness. It might require a Google search to get you into a happier mindset, or maybe just some scented candles and soft music. Good luck, and happy writing (literally)!

-Jess the Intern

Lately, I’ve felt like a Roomba.

When I was about 6, my mom brought one of these tiny cleaning robots home. I remember being excited and impressed, the way 6 or 7 year olds can be impressed by something as unimpressive as a battery-operated vacuum with a keen sense of spatial awareness. To me, it seemed such a drastic and inconceivable change after years of a canister vacuum with twelve additional attachments and a retractable cord that never failed to get tangled on itself. The Roomba was independent and smart and confident in its ability to complete the job without a crutch (if it was fully charged, that is); all qualities that I would eventually come to value and strive for.

Rounding out my junior year of undergrad has felt nearly impossible. I have actively and consciously tried to place emphasis on my independence, confidence in my abilities, and trust in myself to remain level-headed and rational, despite the seemingly infinite amount of garbage strewn about in front of me. But holding onto these things has come with challenges and it’s gotten harder to maintain the optimism sparked in 6-year-old me.

With age, both the Roomba and myself have been worn down. Whether it’s buried somewhere in the crawl space or disintegrating in a landfill, I don’t know, but the Roomba stopped holding a charge. It ran itself into corners and down stairs. It still did what it was programmed to do, but it lacked the suave and fervor that my kid self admired so much, and I don’t blame it. After all, how much garbage can such a small thing absorb before it craps out?

That’s where I am.

Sometimes, I feel like I’m observing my life from outside of this shell as it does what is expected of it–the same way I once watched the Roomba clean up everyone’s messes. I’m not too sure how good of a job I’m doing anymore, and I think that maybe I’ve stopped holding a charge. I hope my new battery arrives in the mail soon.

Jenna, Spring 2018 Intern

Birthdays

I’m about to turn nineteen, and my friends and I joke that there is nothing exciting about being nineteen. At eighteen you’re officially an adult and you are granted new legal privileges like voting, at twenty you leave your teen years behind for good, and at twenty-one, of course, you can drink. Nineteen is an “in-between” age, but I don’t think I’ll mind if I can manage to have a calm year.

The evolution of how we celebrate birthdays seems to come full circle. When we are young we throw extravagant parties, a few of which I threw myself. As we grow older, we grow calmer, and commemorate the event with family and a few friends, maybe a favorite restaurant and an ice cream cake. At some point, we become embarrassed of our age; many of the middle aged or older folks I know would sooner forget it. Then, once we’re properly old, we begin to celebrate again. Maybe not with parties, but we rediscover that life is worth celebrating, and birthdays are worth remembering.

When I was in eighth grade, a teacher told me that she keeps a journal that she writes in just once a year, on or around her birthday. It was pretty simple, she said, but she had been doing it for over a decade. She would write about her friends and her family, about the things she was doing and thinking. She found that it was a time capsule, and when she looked back on her earlier entries she saw a snapshot of herself at that age. I thought it sounded like a great idea, but I never got around to implementing it myself. I wish I had started when she told me about it, so that I would have a snapshot of eighth grade Jess to look back on.

I’m going to start this year; I have my notebook ready. I look forward to filling its pages this year, and every year following.

I find that birthdays are a good time to look inward, so I am going to pass that on to you. I have two prompts you might want to try this week. First, write a poem from the perspective of yourself at a future age. Try to predict how you may change in the coming years, as you grow older. Or, you could write a poem full of advice for your former self. What is something that you needed to hear at a particular time in your life? Happy writing!

– Jess the Intern

Perhaps a Premature Note of Appreciation (Though I Believe It’s Always a Great Time for One)

As the end of the semester approaches, I’ve been catching myself in bouts of dread.

This surprises me because by the end of a semester I’m usually burnt out and itching for the ability to prance in the spring sunshine. I do hold onto that hope, despite the fact that three of my greatest friends are graduating, not to mention all of the Spring rain.

I cannot wait to do all of these things with my pals as spring feels nearer and nearer every day; I am proud of their endurance and dedication and hard work–but, there’s a bittersweetness knowing I’ll no longer be surrounded by these wonderful people as I trudge through my semester (and next semester, and the semester after that).

As the warmth comes closer, so does my excitement and optimism, and it feels so refreshing after a long, musty winter. I don’t want my melancholy to obstruct my perception of each and every lovely experience I have with m, k, and e as the semester flies by, from sharing cups of coffee and morning snuggle sessions to dowsing ourselves in glitter for fun on warm days to supporting and loving each other through even the strangest times. Every day they show me that they are capable of achieving any of their aspirations, and they show me that I am too.

Spring is my favorite season, and I wouldn’t dream of dedicating any other season to celebrating all of our accomplishments, our growth, and our rebirth. I’m using this blog post as both my farewell to the anxiety and apprehension at saying goodbye and my (re)welcoming of appreciation and love–and if any of you readers feel this way, I hope you can too.

Write a poem about one or both of these things:

  1. Indulging in that comfortable sadness or bitterness or discontent, whatever it may be brought on by, and pouring as much of it out onto the page as possible. Wrap it up with a nice bow, and let it leave you OR
  2. Something that has sparked your optimism and excitement lately–the sporadic days of warmth, a new opportunity, maybe even just a general brightness that has affected your day-to-day life.

‘Til next time, Poets!

Jenna (Spring 2018 Intern)

All About Me

Rummaging through a cabinet full of children’s books in our living room, which my family used to call our “library,” I stumbled upon a book of poems. I flipped through the index and ran my finger down the crisp, white page until I saw a familiar name, mine. I quickly turned to the suggested page to find my poem:

 

“All About Me”

I like to sing and color and dance,

and there may be one color I may like.

I have many friends like you and me.

I have two brothers that care for me.

Hearts for you, hearts for me,

we all live together in a family tree.

 

This poem is both the first poem I ever wrote and my claim to fame. In first grade I submitted it to a contest and won, so it was published in an anthology of poems. At the time, it felt incredibly special, though looking back through the large volume, I suspect that few participants lost. I was incredibly proud of my poem; I even remember bringing the book in for show-and-tell. As I grew older, I would cringe at my elementary attempts at poetry. Once I got to high school, I kind of forgot about it, thus my recent rediscovery.

I still like to sing and color and dance, but I don’t do any of these things as often as I once did. I mourn the reckless abandon with which I could once express myself. These days, even when I have the time, I get too caught up in not being very good at these activities to make an attempt. I reckon the second line referred to my favorite color, but I don’t remember what it was. I don’t really have one nowadays, but if pressed I would say blue or lilac.

I am incredibly fortunate to have amazing friends, though they do not include many of my first grade friends. My current friends are kind and supportive in everything I do. Coming to college has only expanded my circle, and I have grown to adore my new friends too. I still have two brothers and they still care for me, even if we don’t say “I love you” as much as we used to.

The final two lines were my favorite in first grade, and they still are. I think I originally liked them because they rhyme, but now I like them because they point to out a sense of shared humanity. I like the idea that all people are part of the same human family. We may be different on the outside, but we all have the same hearts beating inside of our chests.

This week, take a look at a poem you wrote a while ago. Maybe, like me, yours is from elementary school, or maybe it’s just a few months old. Try either revamping it to develop the ideas or the structure, or writing a response to it.

– Jess the Intern

Back to the Tundra

Here’s a short list of things that I did instead of my schoolwork today:

    • my laundry
    • someone else’s laundry
    • swiffered the kitchen floor
      • twice
    • ate 2 bowls of dry Fruit Loops to the face
    • vacuumed the rug in the dining room
      • realized the vacuum sucked up absolutely nothing
        • played pretend mechanic as I knelt beside the vacuum and snipped across the tornado-shaped clump of hair twisted in its bristles
          • ripped it all out
    • vacuumed the rug in the dining room (again)
    • made sure every room of the house had an incense stick burning
    • folded the laundry
    • browsed the web for concert tickets I can’t afford
    • etc.,

 

 

You get the point. Some of these tasks are productive, most just little distractions to stretch the luxury of having of a few classless days. It seems extra tough to light a fire under my bum after a trip home to a sunnier side of New York.

During the beginning of the school year, I started making a playlist called Back to the Tundra; it features mostly melancholy r&b/rap sprinkled with a few empowering tunes, and I honestly made it to melodramatically sulk and self-loathe on the drives from Long Island to Binghamton. Lately, it’s more like I’m Stuck in the Tundra–waiting for the comfort and warmth of an east coast summer while hiding in my blankets from the somber upstate NY cold. I’m hoping that these seemingly trivial tasks like the ones above will keep me busy until then. If you ever have days like this, I’m sure you can relate to the sporadic and random acts that we do to distract ourselves. This week, be mindful of how you are using your time, and if you find yourself doing something seemingly strange or out of routine, ask what purpose it could be serving for you. Perhaps you could even turn it into a poem! ‘Til next time.

Caio,

Jenna, Spring 2018 intern