Monthly Archives: February 2015

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Chapel Hill Writing Prompt

Hey guys, I wanted to share what I wrote during the class exercise today. (By the way, wonderful exercise and overall presentation! Thank you Joey, Grace, and Cassidy.)

 To the Media and Police in Chapel Hill

“Muslims–who’d grown up in America” as if that really matters?

result of a parking dispute? why are you all white? where are the Muslim voices? Where are the students’ voices?

what do you know about religious persecution, about hatred for your misconceived identity?

this is another “fiction of the facts”–

the fact that there was a parking dispute

the “fact” that Hicks’ white wife was so incredibly sure this had nothing to do with religion, though her white husband’s homicidal actions took her completely by surprise

How much do you know?

How do you know?

Do you know?

You know? Because the only ones that can prove this a hate crime motivated by religion can’t make it to court.

Will you speak for them?                                                                                                       Or will you continue speaking                                                                                                for Charlie Hebdo

though you are not even French.

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The Pain of Anger and its Brother, Resignation

I have a confession. Several previous posts from classmates addressed the question of what to do with the information and emotions evoked in Citizen. It’s a good question. It’s a really really important question. No one really had an answer. I found myself (already in a hungry and irritated mood, sorry) reading these posts and just saying to myself, “Okay, but that’s not good enough.We have to do something. There are already things being done and I feel like no one here is serious about it.” I feel terrible about this critique, honestly; I respect you all a lot and you brought up really salient points in your posts. It says something that this effected all of you so deeply and strongly.

But right now I feel angry. And not just right now. Almost all the time. Since Thursday’s writing exercise in class, I just can’t shake the pain and the anger welling up inside me. I try to keep pushing it down but at a certain point I’m just too tired. For a while it was about the experience I poured onto the page, but then it became more. It turned into this deep sadness that tries desperately to hold onto some kind of hope. It became the exhaustion in the realization that anything I can do is never enough to change something, and no one else seems to care. I want to believe that all of you care, but at the end of the day how much are you willing to give? I’m not even sure I can answer that honestly. I know I can’t give everything, but every day the temptation to turn away, to close my eyes to oppression and marginalization and institutional racism, becomes more attractive. There will always be things I can’t run away from: being a woman, having a mental illness, growing up in a lower socioeconomic class. Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to embrace and forget the privilege of being white, of having a good education, of growing up in a wealthy country with freedom of religion, of being able-bodied, of being cis-heterosexual. But the best version of myself remembers to open my eyes and fight against the things I have been born into. I can’t help that I’m white, and I never asked for the privilege I have, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t my responsibility to do something about it. The system I live in is racist; it gives me advantages over people of color that I do not deserve; it allows me to walk without fear; it stinks of the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow.

This is only a small amount of the frustration and anger that I met from the reliving of one painful memory. I can’t imagine how Claudia Rankine dealt with the entirety of reliving the pain of the stories, the collective memories she wrote. I don’t know what she did with this anger, but I am in so much debt to her for the pain she endured for Citizen.

 

You remember one thing and everything comes back and it feels like you’re drowning in your own memories and people keep telling you to keep swimming like they can’t see that the water is crashing onto your back again and again and again, each time reminding you that you are in the middle of an ocean and no one is coming to rescue you. Each time reminding you that as surely as there is salt in the water, another wave will push you back down. All you can hope for is that the waters of your memory will calm the fuck down enough so that you can float for a moment on your back, staring up into the skies of an unfulfilled future that you can dream will not disappoint you.

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Cat Ladies and Valentines

First, I’d like to talk about the poem “Believing Green.” I loved that poem. Like Alex mentioned, Kyle, he and I all read each other the Wiman poems aloud. I read this one. It was beautiful (not because of the merit of my reading, but of its own accord). I didn’t understand, and I reread,reread,reread, but not because I wanted to understand it. I just keep reading because it sounded so beautiful, because it transported me, and that does not often happen when I read poems. At first, it was just the sounds, the alliteration, the language that flew me away, and later it was the visual scene of that eccentric house. I won’t presume to interpret the poems meaning, because I’d rather leave it as it is in its strange beauty. It makes me long for an old grandma with cats, with a life’s worth of experience that somehow brings together knowledge of cooking, animals, lawn decorations, and the growing of grass. It gives me cravings for those cryptic words of wisdom, those people that you look at and wonder, “Where the hell did this person come from, and how did we even become friends?” I feel a glimpse of the “nuances of neverness” after experiencing this poem, and a longing for more.

Second, although I have long aspired to become a permanent cat lady living alone in a cool house, Valentine’s Day kinda stings. Like, if you don’t hate it because you’re single, you hate it for its commercialism and shallow creativity in selling boxes of chocolates that all look the same and usually taste like shit. I’d rather receive a nice set of pens or a nice avocado, honestly. However, my most cherished Valentine is a poem. Poems don’t poison my body with sugar, nor do they end up in a Goodwill box within months (like the stuffed animals holding hearts). They remain, and if they’re good, they remain true. I really appreciated the exercise we did in class, and I’m excited to give my friend a poem tomorrow. Another thing I do every year (since last year), is make paper valentines for the homeless neighbors that come for Room In The Inn. Last year, I figured, they probably don’t usually get valentines. I made some, and the reactions I received were affirming.

I bet there are a lot of people who spend Valentine’s Day without receiving any gesture of love or kindness. Maybe the woman in “Believing Green” spent it alone, mourning a lost loved one or the lack thereof in the first place. Look for someone you can reach out to; give them a poem, or a heart cut out of construction paper, or a flower. Tell them they matter. I think it can really lift someone’s spirits.

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“Seriously Injured”

excerpted from The Davidsonian, Vol. 107 Issue Two, Official College Statement on a mechanical accident with an employee.

 

employee Joe Steele

was repairing the steam water heater

in Watts Residence Hall.

Upon re-energizing

the water heater, the tank

released [scalding] hot

water from a pressure relief

valve. Steele suffered

first and second degree burns

from the hot water. Medics

responded to the call Steele

was transported by

helicopter to Baptist Hospital Burn Center in

Winston

Salem

Steele

remains under the care of the medical staff

at Baptist Hospital Burn Center

and is alert

and is communicative.

 

 

He was

conscious and coherent during

the entire incident.

 

 

 

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