January 29, 2007

SARCASM

I love it when you can feel people pushing you out of their lives-- When you know that you don't really matter to some people anymore, or when you know that they value something so immaterial more than their four year friendship with you.

I love it even more when I can lay awake at night and pinpoint the moment in my life that brought about all of the complexes I've formed in the past five years. I love that I know exactly what is wrong with me, and where it all started.

But what I really love is the fact that I can't do anything about it.
It will never change.

I love that I'm so incredibly selfish about so many incredibly stupid things-- that I can look at someone's pain and say, "They're so selfish.", even though I'm the selfish one. I also love that I'm pretentious and critical. I love that I can spew out advice and admonishment because I so obviously know exactly what other people should be doing, but then I forget that I did it all, too-- I just chose a razor instead of a bottle, or a cigarette, or a joint.

I love that, through all of the things I do, I end up doing to God the exact things that I can feel people doing to me-- pushing Him out of my life while claiming His grace, and waving in His face something so immaterial that I idiotically value more than my friendship with Him.

January 24, 2007

L'imposteur

CLEANTE: Brother, I don't pretend to be a sage,
Nor have I all the wisdom of the age.
There's just one insight I would dare to claim:
I know that true and false are not the same;
And just as there is nothing I more revere
Than a soul whose faith is steadfast and sincere,
Nothing that I more cherish and admire
Than honest zeal and true religious fire,
So there is nothing I find more base
Than specious piety's dishonest face--
Whose impious mummeries and hollow shows
Exploit our love of Heaven, and make a jest
Of all that men think holiest and best;
These calculating souls who offer prayers
Not to their Maker, but as public wares,
And seek to buy respect and reputation
With lifted eyes and sighs of exaltation;
These charlatans, I say, whose pilgrim sould
Proceed, by way of Heaven, toward earthly goals,
Who weep and pray and swindle and extort,
Who preach the monkish life, but haunt the court,
Who make their zeal the partner of their vice--
Such men are vengeful, sly, and cold as ice,
And when there is an enemy to defame
They cloak their spite in fair religion's name,
Their private spleen and malice being made
To seem a high and virtuous crusade,
Until, to mankind's reverent applause,
They crucify they're foe for Heaven's cause.

Tartuffe, Moliere

January 20, 2007

Evolution of the Poetic Concept

I love to write poetry. Period. As I become more and more educated in literature-- both traditional and contemporary-- my perception of what is "poetic", or even "artistic" changes so often. The first semester of college was spent trying to perfect poems of meter, rhyme, and traditional form. I even tried to write a sonnet once...

Stretching out Your hand as if it were rain
You chose to touch my dark and sordid face.
What motivation! Still, my mind refrain
From choosing to run this long, horrid race.
And lo, my heart [still mute] will reprieve this;
That I may remain living while still dead
And I shall refuse to live in true bliss.
Still my soul would surely choose this instead,
To cast away its cares or simply cope.
For there must be some unfeigned way to
Live in full peace and to know sincere hope--
To love and be loved by One who is true.
How lost in Your wonder is my small mind!
None have I known, compared to Your kind.


Last spring semester, I read a lot of ee cummings. A LOT of ee cummings. I annotated. I mimicked. I came to love the idea and challenge of controlling words without meter or rhyme. The abstract structure of American poetry in the 1950's caught my attention, and I decided to try to work on this beautiful idea. Here's one of my favorites...

dancing, like ballet
across the surface of the sea,
like air
the art of you sculpts fragile memories
like cool marble stone
in a still quiet museum.
all around, the people
bustle away
while you, like the sun
rise and fall,
creating your masterpiece.


I think I am slowly evening out my style, and I am extremely excited.

Last night, I found a poem by a Palestinian-American poet, Naomi Shihab Nye. Her use of language and control of tone and atmosphere astounds me, as well as the power of her imagery.

"Making a Fist"

For the first time, on the road north of Tampico,
I felt the life sliding out of me,
a drum in the desert, harder and harder to hear.
I was seven, I lay in the car
watching palm trees swirl a sickening pattern past the glass.
My stomach was a melon split wide inside my skin.

"How do you know if you are going to die?"I begged my mother.
We had been traveling for days.
With strange confidence she answered,"When you can no longer make a fist."

Years later I smile to think of that journey,
the borders we must cross separately,
stamped with our unanswerable woes.
I who did not die, who am still living,
still lying in the backseat behind all my questions,
clenching and opening one small hand.

-Naomi Shihab Nye


I have read and heard many of Nye's poems in the past week, and all morning before church, I had two lines of poetry in the style of Nye that would not leave my mind: "I never knew what my house looked like from the highway/nestled in the earth, and life, and willows." So, after I sat down before the service (and through the whole thing, I admit), I began to write it down. But... how do you finish a pome like that? Where is it supposed to go from there? I added line by line all morning, and I ended up writing this;

I never knew what my house looked like from the highway
nestled in the earth, and life, and willows
with a creek bubbling behind and six cars parked in front.

I've always wondered if it looked like home from a mile away
filled with the truth, and smiles, and singing laughter
with tears behind us and bright hopes ahead.

But I realize, it's not about what it looks like on the outside
not earth, not willows, not six cars parked out front.
It's about living out the smiles.
It's about singing out the truth.

This semester, in all four of my literature courses, I hope I can take away even more ways to refine my poetic concept. I'll share with you all the poetry I write, even if it scares me to death to let anyone see it. You all encourage me. You inspire me, and inspiration is the best kind of poetry... it IS poetry.

January 13, 2007

I need YOUR help.

Okay, so... I'm a couple of edits away from self-publishing my first novel. However, I need to figure out some stuff with the cover art. I have some mock-ups made with stock photos (I'll be taking my own for the actual cover), and I need to know what some people think of the ones I have so far. SO... out of the three designs below, which would you most likely pick up/buy/look at to read in a book store?

1)

























2)




3)






It will be a 6" by 9" book. The story is about a 17 year old girl that struggles with self-injury... if that helps you get a feel for the book at all. Of course, the back cover would mimmick the front in style and colors and such-- and it would be a lot more polished and professional looking. Whaddya think? Any opinions would be awesome... just be nice. haha


-Jessica

January 08, 2007

Rescuer

A very late night conversation with a couple of my friends on New Years Eve/Day inspired me to write this post. It's something I don't talk about nearly enough.

I was “saved” at the age of three. I loved God, and I knew who he was, even if I was young. I wouldn’t quite say that I understood the saving power of who He is, though. It took a lot more than a prayer to teach me that. I had a great Christian education, and was well versed in Scripture and Christian doctrine. I could debate theology with anyone, and still appear extremely intelligent for my age.

But, when I was 13, my family moved out of state and then moved again when I was 14. By this time, I was seriously doubting my beliefs. Maybe “doubting my beliefs” isn’t the right way to put it. I still knew God, and I knew how He could provide for my needs, but so many things in life seemed so much more logical than He did. Because so many illogical things had happened in such a short time before this, I thrived on and sought out practicality, logic, minimalism, strictness, and reason. What eventually came of this was in no way logical, though.

I don't remember a lot of what happened in my life between the ages of 14 and 16, but I remember that they were very dark days for me. I was very depressed. I began to punish myself for not being able to be happy, for trusting people I shouldn‘t have, for doing something stupid at youth group, or even for getting a bad grade. At first, it was only skipping meals, scratching at my arms, and running myself down all the time. The first manifestation of it all that I can remember was at a performance of Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker". My brother asked why my arm was scratched, and I told him fearlessly that I had done it. He jokingly called me "Cutter", and never brought it up again.

That was just the beginning.

It quickly escalated to punishing my body through exercise and under eating. At one point, I was eating one small meal a day and exercising for a little under four hours a day. I would fill up on coffee and diet soda, or I would manipulate my metabolism so that I wouldn't even get hungry at all. What I couldn't do by swimming laps, I'd make up for in walking or stay up working out in my room. I lost about 70 pounds the summer before I began my junior year, but even that wasn't enough-- I wasn’t enough. So I continued to push myself. I would hitch rides to the local rec center when our home pool closed for the year, and I started walking to friends houses and Bible study regularly.

Even though I was consistently controlling my body, I started cutting myself when I was 15 years old. It started with thumb tacks and mechanical pencils, and eventually I was using razors and even knives if I could. I never thought I would come clean, but when I made the choice to tell my youth leader about my habit, I knew that I had to tell my parents. I didn't want them to find out about it through anyone but myself. A little after my 16th birthday, I had my parents and myself convinced that I wasn't going to cut anymore, but I soon fell back into it. This was worse. I never used anything but razors or knives, and the cuts seemed to last longer and go deeper each time. I saw people who had been into cutting at my age, who were then in their 20s, trying to raise families and have careers-- the baggage that self-harm left was unbelievable, and I knew deep down that I could very well have been on that road. So, I pushed people away because I didn't want to have to explain myself to them-- but really, it's because I didn't want to face myself when all was said and done. I didn't want to end up in a psych ward. I didn't want to end up constantly unstable, and facing more mental disorders than I could even fathom. I lived a seemingly double life. I led youth group and worked with non-profit organizations, all the while destroying myself for some unvoiced reason-- a reason I couldn't even find words for.

After six more months of battling with myself and my rage (as well as with my parents, who found out about one of my relapses because my little sister saw a cut on my arm-- ironically, it is one of the only scars visible on my arms to this day), I finally realized how far I had gone. It occurred to me one night, at a bon fire, that it wasn’t okay for me to bleed instead of crying, or talking to someone about what I was feeling. It wasn’t okay, regardless of my weight or pants size, to starve myself or obsess over how I looked. I also realized how futile the pursuit of control was. At least, it wasn’t at all worth the price I paid for it.

I had ruined many relationships in my life. My friends were hurt. I spent many nights on the phone with my three closest friends (what good friends they were, even if I wanted desperately to get away from them)-- it wasn‘t rare for them to be crying or yelling or both. My parents couldn't trust me, and with good reason. Sometimes even now, if I have a scratch on my arm, they‘ll ask about it, which only reminds me of how much they deserve to hold my trust (as well as what a blessing it is for me to hold theirs after all I put them through.) Worst of all, I had injured my relationship with God in a major way. By cutting, I stood in His face and told Him that He wasn’t good enough to sooth my pain. By starving myself, I told Him that I didn’t trust Him enough to make me beautiful.

A few weeks after the last time I cut, my family moved again. God showed me how incredibly good He is. In the town that I moved from, my reputation was ruined. I couldn't be considered a stable, healthy girl anymore, and I didn't want to live in that manner in the new community I would have to be a part of. God pretty much got in my face and said "Straighten up, I’m giving you a second chance."

The second chance came. I’ve been able to come into contact with others who are coming out of the depths and darkness of self-harm. I still struggle with all of these things. Mostly cutting, and the feeling that I need to punish myself. But now, I know just how much I need God, and how willing He is to let me start over. It is so much more than a blessing-- my second chance. To be able to shine, even if I’m not quite there yet. To be able to smile again (which I've been told I never stop doing-- Praise God! What else is there to do, really?), and more than that-- to be able to cry again. To be able to stand up and say, “I’ve been there, and I know for a fact that you don’t have to be.”

But more than anything, I am forever grateful that my God is a rescuer. He is MY rescuer.

"We must tell them that there is no pit so deep that He is not deeper still. They will listen to us... because we have been here." - Betsie Ten Boom

"Does anybody know how I feel? Sometimes I'm numb, sometimes I'm overcome. Does anybody care what's going on? Do I have to wear my scars like a badge on my arm for you to see me, I need release. Do I have to scream for you to hear me? Do I have to bleed for you to see me? 'Cause I grieve, you're not listening to me. Do I need to scream? Has anybody seen what's been done? Where was my defense? No one heard my protest. The eyes of God were watching me. It's time to make my peace, let it go and be released so I can breathe again. I'm on my knees I've been marked, set apart, but I'm cut so deep and afraid of the dark. One drop of blood from the hole in Your hand is enough to heal me and make me stand. 'Cause I'm clean, He is listening to me. I don't have to scream for Him to hear me-- Don't have to bleed for Him to see me. 'Cause I'm clean, He is listening to me. I don't have to scream. I don't have to bleed .'Cause I'm clean, He is listening-- And I don't have to scream." - ZOEgirl, Scream

January 04, 2007

On Being Overdressed

Imagine a little girl, dark wispy hair, big gray eyes. She dances in a black velvet tutu across every part of her life. There is joy in the ...