Category Archives: writing.

struggles.

while i’d broken my habit for blogging, i remained fairly dedicated to tweeting [while there was a quick sabbatical this fall, that was due not to my dedication but rather my old, now vintage, iphone].  this saturday i tweeted about the ufc fight.  my boyfriend is a dedicated fan to the sport of mma, and by association, have become somewhat interested in it as well.  the act of fighting, however, and moreover, watching the fights, i have many concerns about.  but, like with any social activity, there is certainly some good hidden beneath the beatings and blood.

usually, i have no stake in the fights.  as i sit there with my boyfriend, at whatever restaurant or bar, i prefer to have some quiet time.  while he first worried i was bored, i assured him that sitting quietly, anonymous in a crowded, loud space is one of my most thought-inspiring spaces [i’m great in airports].  but this past saturday’s fight was different.  i was trash-talking, swearing, and name-calling just like the boys.  this fight was different.  one of the fighters this week was different.  and because of him, i had a stake in the fights.

and then i had a panic attack and lost feeling in my whole body.

***

one of the topics i became interested in academically last semester was that of shame.  i found that it is the leading cause of all violence and personal/social illness.  feelings someone might have about themselves, feelings of inadequacy, of failure, of pain, often result in poor outcomes for the individual and those surrounding them.  they act out on their shame in ways that they think will bring them some resolve to this emptiness–bring some respect, love, or protection.

i became specifically interested in what this idea of shame, relative to economic advantage, had on an individual’s health.  how striving for some material gain, or realizing it was outside of your grasp, could throw off your ability to feel good about yourself and others.  shame is incredibly apparent in situations of violence, but what about those areas where it is not so apparent?  i am interested in those who are victims of this shame and violence, mainly homeless youth.  from my own struggles, i realized the importance that one intervention, one spark of belief in oneself could have toward restructuring your entire worldview.  i began to develop a curriculum for creative-writing to use with two of the area shelters in denver.  writing is not only a skill that provides you with some economic stability–in the way of job skills–but also, overall confidence and consciousness of oneself.  it helps you to overcome the struggle of shame.  if i could help create some spark, it would help empower these youth to end the cycle of shame and violence they had been forced into.  it would give them a means and a hope for survival.

***

‘you’ll really like this, and its done really well too,’ my boyfriend told me, referring to the docu-profiles ufc put out about different fighters, usually competing in the title fight.  ‘you remember that one guy, who is always such a dick,’ he turned to start the video on his desktop, ‘now i get why. and you’ll probably say that you could have predicted this due to his demeanor, but still.’

i sat on his lap with a tupperware full of pre-grilled chicken and brown rice, having just finished a giant bowl of raw spinach and broccolli. i had just begun getting serious about my tri-training, and was craving protein.  mark followed the sport like most follow college football, but as a very intellectual, nerdy mechanical engineer, had a different respect and admiration than most affliction-wearing-applebees-eating-politics-ignoring-meatheads.  it was one interest i worried about when we started dating, but then learned of his view of it and could understand.  as someone who took to boxing early last year like white-on-rice, i too saw the athleticism of these fighters is amazing and worthy of respect.

the profile was of nick diaz and the guy he was going to fight.  nick grew up outside stockton, ca., a city struggling economicall to this day.  his family moved around a lot and he never fit in with his classmates for various reasons and grew to become permanently on the defense.  pushed to fight others, daily, he had to fight to stay alive.  eventually he was going to drop out of school, unwilling to back down, but tired of the struggle.  while being recruited by gangs, he instead turned mma fighting and was able to change his daily life but not his daily struggle.

as fighting had always meant survival, it was no different now.  he did not make friends with other fighters, nor ever speak their praises.  beating them down meant surviving, so he had to win.  and so he was an asshole, but that didn’t matter to him.  he didn’t want the spotlight.  he just wanted life.

i wouldn’t say that nick’s life was shameful.  that shame was something that was his own doing, no.  for no reason at all, he was forced to feel like an outsider, forced to feel different, was disrespected and unloved by his peers that teased, ridiculed and enticed him to fight.  and so, he used fighting as a way to combat these ill-notions and prove that he was in fact worthy of respect, worthy of being seen as adequate, as normal, and worthy of love.  even as his profession, this need to prove himself worthy was still his main motivator for fighting and winning.  losing would mean more than it would to your average athletic competitor.  losing would mean that everyone who had ever belittled him had the right to do so.  losing would mean he had not survived, he was dead.

mark was right, i could have seen that due to his demeanor [and my expertise as a budding social scientist].

he had lived a life of violence, as a victim, and now violence was his only tool to ensure survival.

i liked nick.  i was even inspired by him, not only because he is an incredible endurance athlete [and triathlete] but because he found an outlet that allowed for him to find some self-worth, which few too many individuals find.  but i worried for him.  i worried that one day, he wouldn’t win and his whole idea of self, of life, would crash.  forced by others to only view his self-worth through fighting, if he lost he’d lose himself too.

**

i suffer from ptsd, which means i lived through a traumatic experience that shook my whole life, that ripped the rug out from under my feet, that made me groundless, that left me questioning everything i had ever known about the world and myself.  this confusion, is never really met with answers.  as an individual suffering from ptsd, you can’t just put the puzzle back together again because there are no more pieces, there are no more puzzles.  i felt akin to nick diaz, both groundless, both searching to prove we are worthy of life and love.  success for him, would be success for me because i couldn’t witness his breakdown, couldn’t witness him question his worth, his value.  it would remind me too much of my own questioning.  the night of the fight, i was nervous.

i grew more and more nervous as the fights wore on.  the last of the five, i had been ready to see him fight all night.  his survival, was now tied into my own.  by the fourth, i had lost feeling in my right hand.  i tried to ignore it, pretend it was pins and needles.  the fighters entered the arena, stonefaced intensity.  hate you could smell through the television.  past the growling face, i new deep down, nick was kind and intelligent and all of those good things you strive to be, and was going to fight, just as he always had, to prove that he was.  when the fight started i couldn’t move either hand, couldn’t feel them.  he fought all five rounds, taking some hits and landing others.  all in all, nothing too hard from either side as they were both standing, leaving it up to the judges to decide the winner.

and then they announced it, and the numbness crept up my arms.  nick had lost.  they doned the over-the-top belt on the other guy and the ppv cut off as the bar switched it to music videos.  nick had lost.

all the boys were closing their tabs and returning to topics they chatted about on non-fight nights.  i was quiet. still half-numb.  we walked to the bus.  teasing me, his friends continued their trash talk of nick just for laughs with one another.  i didn’t respond.  when we got to the stop, we got off.  the numbness was growing up my arms and legs. mark lagged behind saying goodbye and i just started walking to the apartment.  and then i ran.  i had lost feeling in my feet and my whole arms and needed it back.  nick had lost.  he was falling apart and now i was falling apart.  i was dying.  i kept running.  in my snow boots and below freezing weather, i still was running faster than ever.  i needed feeling back.  but it wasn’t coming.

mark helped me back to the apartment when he finally caught up to me.  put on my pajamas and lifted me into bed.  kept his arm around me, though i couldn’t feel it and told me i would be ok.  when i told him, i was numb, he got it.  he knew how i had internalized nick’s pain, how it was a trigger for my own.  how his struggle was the same as mine, both damaged and groundless, feeling like the nothing we were cast as by others.

eventually, my mind went numb as i had fallen asleep.  the next morning we didn’t talk about it.  i don’t know what happened to nick.  what he said or did, what he didn’t say or didn’t do.  i just know that he is hurting and struggling to make sense with nothing to stand on.

i think we are both done with ufc.

 

letters.towards.hope.#2

15 December 2009

Dear President Obama,

I expect our correspondence to be once a month considering our hectic schedules, with extra leniency around the holiday season.

Today I was lobbying a staff member of one of the County Supervisors to grant extra money towards one of their Health Services contracts.  This measure would not only save jobs, but would continue the perinatal therapy services that the clinic provides to the low-income community.  I generally like to get straight to the point when it comes to lobbying, in part because I don’t like to dance around the heart of the issue and frankly, I’m not big on hearing myself speak.  While laying out “the ask” the staff member interrupted me and proceeded to first introduce himself, with a full 1000 bio, complete with professional references, and then scolded me for not using the title “Supervisor” when speaking of one of the elected officials.  “Now, I know that you are new at this, and I’m not sure where you are from, but don’t you think that they have earned that title and deserve at least that much respect?”  Because I was feeling nice, I merely said, “On one point you are correct, I’m not from here.  I just moved from Texas, I’m a foreigner to these Californian ways.”  And I left it at that and let him fill up the rest of our meeting with his boastin’-n-name-droppin’.

I believe all people deserve respect, but what he had asked that I show for the Supervisors was not that kind of respect–but rather an acknowledgment of their political position, an acknowledgment of the air they breathe being more important than mine and certainly more important than the workers I represent and the clients they serve.  Do I think they have earned that title?  Well, Mr. Supervisor Staff Member, define earned?  If you mean bought and paid for, then of course.  Politicians buy their way into the position, they earn it by making tough decisions, by saving jobs and providing care for the people who elected them and when they can acknowledge the real needs of their community and can meet them.  Then they can deserve at least that much respect.  They earn their position when they are no longer just a politician, but a leader.

Mr. President, I read about a protester’s sign in Copenhagen that read “Politicians Talk.  Leaders Act.”  I thought it was very appropriate and hope that “act” for you means pushing and signing a binding resolution at the summit that will trickle down into our domestic policy.  You, sir, are a politician, and as any card-carrying Republican will remind us, you did pay quite a lot to have your title.  But have you earned it?  While there is much to say about hope and faith that one day your inspiring words will turn into action, at the end of the day–and presidential term–what will we have to hold onto?

More to come soon.  I’ve read many essay’s on hope lately that I’ll include with this letter.  I’ve highlighted the areas I think you’ll find especially pertinent to our current national dilemmas.

Si Se Puede,

Amanda

back.in.blog

As you maybe, definitaly, probably did not notice, I will occassionally throw up a top.10.reads with no mention of how I am doing.  Originally I had wanted to take ample notes throughout my “work” so I could compile a storyline of what it is like to be organizing in an environment like the one that has now adopted me.  But alas, I started living too much in the now not thinking about how I could be living in forever–forever meaning what I could share could make a greater difference than not sharing it at all.

Rewatching West Wing certainly has led to my reinspiration and return to “writing” [or whatever it is when I actually sit down and type a few things, some of which you get to see here] but really I think it more of a return to THINKING.  Not to say I’ve been caught-up and transformed into the cliche California airhead, but that I’ve removed myself from a larger consciousness.

I have been writing letters to friends since I started work, mainly because I enjoy it but also because I myself like getting mail–it reminds me that I do, in fact, live here.  My next post will be the first of many.  I cannot promise consistency in their postings, but know that everyday in my mind I write a letter like the one I’m about to post, and not just to that one recipient, but to many who will never receive these letters because I will never write them.  This series I am doing because it is an easy way to get my mind back into the present-politik in a manner that I have grown comfortable with.

There will be other updates, some not so serious that I know you’ll giggle over and hide your screen…but those must wait for the more serious updates hold the most urgency, as they are at the point of spilling over into tears, or sprints, or whatever it is that makes me go uncomfortably crazy.

mini.monographs

Being inspired by GarlandGrey.com, I thought about writing a few monographs and submitting them to the website to be published.  Unfortunately, I have not been able to finish a full piece yet, but here are some snipits.

bikram yoga

strangers, in nothing but their underwear enter a hot, moist room.  it is empty, except for a few absorbent mats, some towels.  some bring in their water bottles, others coconut juice, electrolyte enhanced water, or have a naturally healthy level of endurance and hydration.  for ninety minutes they, together, enter into a trance, focusing on each of their sweaty body parts as they move from position, to position, to position.  resting every few positions, on their backs, deep breathing as they just stare at the ceiling eyes open before getting back into the act.  worn out, they all finally finish and enter final relaxation.  when they find the strength, they move from the hot room, to the cold showers.  open but segregated, they cleanse themselves and exit back into the world.

european bath-house? no.  bikram yoga.

loneliness

in my own loneliness, i have found the secret to twitter’s success.  there are many people like me:  out in the world, living their lives and wishing there was someone they could share their funny commentary with, but alas they are alone.  when i’m out with friends, you can tell, because there is a tweet-pause.  when i’m alone, a twittergasm.  i feel weird tweeting when i can just say what i’m thinking outloud to my friend, yes sometimes i tweet with company, but usually after the announcement “imma tweet that.” a friend of mine in real life and on twitter, will often tweet something then txt me simultaneously, i’m always wishing she had tweeted both, this way we could have a public conversation, like we’re at a dinner party with 124 others: random people we passed on campus, some close friends who never tweet just follow, and the porno people.

twitter, well, that’s that and then you hit a new low of loneliness, when you have to say it out loud.  i was signing up for my gym membership and the customer service specialist needed to go finalize my papers at the front desk, “while i head up to the front, you can fill out five friends that you want to give a free month to.”  “oh, that’s nice, do they have to live in the area.” “uh, yeah, its a free month here at this location.”  “oh…[very long awkward pause]..i don’t know five people.”  “well, that’s fine just one or two works too.”  …  “i, um, i don’t even know one person, so…” “oh, that sucks.  kind of a waste of free offers than.  you can just sit here and i wait, i guess.”

thanks, jackass.

**

Also there is: the love email, capital letters, the “love you” without the “I”.  More soon.

from.sarah

Great snip-its from Sarah’s blog posts:

It is often considered rude to refuse, to diminish their offer as unworthy.  It is inspiring and heartbreaking, that those who have so little offer so much, and those of us with so much offer so little back.

I take a bit of a step, a little girl about 7 to 9 years comes forward.  I pass her the juicebox.  She takes it and quickly retreats behind the other children.  I turn, I am being given quizzical glares by the men in charge.  I don’t think they appreciate my re-gifting, I shift uneasily as our driver takes the bag.  I see the girl, she pokes the straw into the box and juice goes everywhere, and I can hear the quick shrill of unexpected laughter.  I’m reminded of years ago attempting to puncture a Capri-sun without juice flowing everywhere, sticky on child-sized hands.  I wonder if she has ever had a juicebox.  She seemed to taste the sickeningly sweet fruit juice with apprehension, then mild enjoyment.  She maybe shared one sip with a younger girl, maybe her sister.  I guess I would have not expecedt her to share, I mean, how often does she receive something that is wholly hers in this village with walls made of loosely bundled reeds and no doors.  It was her alone that reached out and grabbed the juice when all other had scurried away.  She had dared to grab for something new, something foreign, and it was her reward.

I wonder if she will remember this.  I wonder if she remember she once had the courage and ability to reach out and take something it could be wholly hers.   Maybe I’ll remember it too well, maybe it was just a juicebox incident, incidental from any other.

Sarah–I edited these quotes a little…I think you’ve got something really great here.  Like edit-revise-and-publish great.  Me and [I’m volutneering his mastermind] Daniel will help when you get back!

writers.write

I have to admit, I’ve been writing.  My last, undergraduate class takes the cake as the worst ever…and a blessing.  I sit in the darken room and just go.  This is what I wrote today about last night.

**

“We have a bad track record with this.” I hesitated, not sure if it was a good time to make light.
“I know, we missed it by a few minutes last time.”  Mom said and backed out of the garage, a four-point-turn no different from every other time she pulled away.
This is what my yoga teacher says when she tells us to live int he present, the worries are manufactured in the mind to could the current moment and remove you from truly living.  No worries.  Just breathe.
Last night the nursing home called, my great grandmother was fading. She only ever gets sick when no one is in town–my grandparents, my dad gone–leaving just my mom. As we sat by her bed and watched her curled up form breathe in and out with the oxygen machine, a form that once stood 6 ft tall, I knew nothing about her, but knew all of her, about.
People always ask “were you close” when someone dies, as if it matters.  Everyday was a new life for her, the past forgotten, for all she knew, we had always been there–and her newness made us new, and I felt too as if I had always been right next to her. Removal does not make death any different–ever ordinary, never extraordinary.  So I hoped to comfort her.  All bone, I pat her femur and felt my own–long, unporportioned, yet when rooted in the ground made us taller than the rest of the women.  Her breath quick, short, she fogged the oxygen mask and fretted.
Sitting there I felt the magnetism that flows in our blood and draws us near to one another, stuck in a moment of time, and maybe that is all there is, a few minutes, a few last breaths–but the draw, the energy field created between two people makes you one, for infinity and a day.
She opened her eyes and peeked at me.  Scared, somewhat foreign, I just looked back at her–still.
“Happy Birthday GG,” we hadn’t remembered till we saw the sign on the door, “You won.  You’re the oldest.  99 years young.”  Another long 30 minutes and she would be 99 and a day.  It was always a contest for her, this I knew and very little else, but because I walked in that night I would forever know all there is.
**
My mom and I, her too many times than you are suppose to, are the only ones in our whole family who have watched the death if someone who shares our blood. It is weird to be sitting there.  Their flow stops and yours does not, though one of the same stream. My mom said that GG (great grandmother) planned this. As she always gets sick when only my mom can care for her, she had but one more month till she moved to Denver.  As if timed, she grew sick when my grandparents boarded the plane to CA.  On the way to the home, my mom joked, “I guess she had it out for me since she met me.” As she drove me  late last night so I could get to bed, she said as I had believed before “she must have picked me, because I’ve done it before.  I am the only one who could see it, who could stand it, who could tell the others and still…be.”

**

There was more, but I cannot type it now.  It needs some revision, a little clarity, a little quiet time.

lessons.learned

So I have been on a memoir kick recently, analyzing how writers share their past in a manner that affects readers’ present, and everyone’s future.  Last weekend I finished Five Men Who Broke My Heart by Susan Shapiro, where she tells exactly as the title implies.  As with every read, there are lessons learned which brings me to blog about something I don’t like to blog about for it is so cliche for a 23 yr old, single gal to blog about love/relationships and the shit storms that ensue from both.

**

I was talking about the cliche to Angie once, after a day of really bad stories in workshop, saying that people our age do not know how to write on the subject of love/sex/relationships as we have little experience from our reality to even narrate the fiction.  She said that it is not an issue of experience but rather, lacking the words to describe our feelings.  Particular to the South, she said, we are unable to talk about our emotions in a way that truly personifies what we’re feeling.

**

In Shapiro’s book, an ex-boyfriend emails her about meeting up to discuss his book about to be released.  When they meet up she begins an impromptu interview asking him about their relationship, leading her on a chase to do the same with all of the other major lovers in her life.  While she dosen’t disclose the specific details of the interviews, the reader comes to know the men through the title she gives them–Mr. Studrocket, Beach Boy, the Biographer, Root Canal, Batman–and the memory snapshots each shared.  It was through her essays that I came to realize that there is nothing unique about our relationships, nothing new happens to us that hasn’t happened to anyone else.  Everyone has their Studrocket, Nice Guy, etc., the situations, the individuals, they are not unique or special–and I’m going to stop treating them that way.

**

I’ve been thinking about this recently in the frame of the Periodic Table.  There are [x] amount of elements <<potential partners>> that each have certain properties that seperate it from the others on the table <<physical, emotional, biographical info>> and combined with a second element <<you>> different reactions can occur, different bonds may form, in the end if possible between the two, you create a compound.

Some compounds are more prevalent in certain climates.  Some are highly explosive, some impossible.  Some bonds are weak but sustainable, and others are unbreakable and last for centuries [these are the ones with the hightest value].

Of coarse, I’ve begun an outline to write this essay.  I had always invisioned myself writing a group of essays like Shapiro’s one day, feeling that with enough time and maturity [meaning, enough impressive info found via googling] it would be interesting to meet back up with these guys that seemed to hold such an important part of my identity for whatever amount of time.  [Already, I feel really evolved from the girlfriend I use to be, so this could be interesting to do now to some extent…maybe that will happen with the essay].

**

So that wasn’t so painful, or cliche, but I didn’t really whine or talk about anything too personal [save it for the essays?].  The reason I was moved to talk about it in the first place, shows some hint of reconizing something that I’m trying to work through presently.  My own Mr. Studrocket [and you’ll have to ask me or read the book to find out what this character entails] is causing me worry, I actually cried about it the other day.  It came out of no where.  I was alone, but still embarrassed to have done it.  This is when I remembered that this situation is not unique, not special, just one compound that did not, will not, should not ever form.  For now, I have to get back to reading about ionic bonds.

**

Here’s the big question, for the essay: there are 117 elements, would it be best to have one for each guy? [I’m only up to about 55] or just stick to the most explosive, repellent elements? if I made it fiction, I could have 117 and group them like on the table…or maybe just ask Chelsea Handler if I could use her list?