Sunday, October 31, 2010

Rainy Halloween...and a poem

Almost November! I'll be glad when Halloween weekend is over. All these parties I don't want to go to for a holiday I don't enjoy. I don't have a problem with Halloween in general, I've just never been interested in costumes or crazy partying.

School's clipping along. Nonfiction is going better. I finished both of my presentations for the class, and they went well, plus I'm gaining more confidence to speak out in class. Sometimes the readings and the essays I have to write are really stimulating and even fun. I loved (for the most part) reading and presenting on Ben Franklin's autobiography--he is hilarious and super fascinating and has an honest, down-to-earth voice. And by the way, he's my great-great-great-great-great uncle on my paternal grandpa's side ;) My claim to fame.

The most fulfilling things are writing poetry (I actually like all my homework, but it's a treat to have a couple hours just to write) and my internship with Get Lit!--which is busy and very posts (btw, the blog is, in case you want to check out some literary news!), newsletters, author bios, website pages, and pages for the festival program guide.

I had a wonderful birthday--laid-back, just the way I like it. Isaac took me to a nice dinner and to see The Social Network, and the Wescombes--plus Meghan and Nate and Meghan's roommate, visiting from Colorado--had a sweet birthday dinner for me.

Ken and Maile made a trip out here from Seattle last weekend. It was a surprise for Isaac, and it was fun planning it and seeing how totally stunned and overjoyed he was to see them. It rained all weekend (actually, it's been gray and gross for a couple weeks now) and Isaac worked for one of his classmates for most of Saturday, but I took them around downtown and to the waterfall, and we had a great time at a Fall party at Erica and Aaron's place.

I think I've mentioned Erica and Aaron (a couple from our church), but I should talk about them again. We've been hanging out with them quite a bit, and I feel like Erica has been the first friend I've really connected with here (though I also really enjoy some of the girls from school). The other day she and I went to the humane society and squealed over the adorable doggies :) I WANT ONE!

Isaac is crazy into cooking, and when I have time and inspiration, I get into it, too; we've been eating well and learning a lot. He's mastering bread baking and making mayo from scratch, and I get bored and want to find delicious healthy meals that only take like 5 minutes to make. Ha.

I don't usually do this, but here's the most recent poem I wrote. It's a first draft and I'm sure in a couple weeks I'll be ashamed I posted it as is, but I'm still in the honeymoon phase with it and want to share it. It's pretty different than anything I've ever written:


Mtongwe Ferry Disaster, 272 Dead

Cresting the hill like a dam’s been released,

a crowd floods from Mombasa town

to the lip of the harbor, daily

commute back to the villages

under an ebbing orange sun.

Women wear crowns of rag-wrapped

charcoal, skinny boys flap

in paper-thin sandals.

She arrives lumbering, eases her ramp

to the ground, voicing the groans

the people are silencing in throbbing bones.

At the touch of steel to concrete, the crowd

swirls on board like a wind,

pressing into corners, swelling

to fill imaginary space.

There’s an echoing shuffle of feet

on rust, bodies aligned, balanced

and rigid, the umber scent of tropics

thick in the silvering air. Children strain

their faces to catch a breath above

the forest of legs. Still the crowd leans in

and in toward the sea. Pupils blacken

in black eyes the sudden moment

they know it’s too much—

the coxswain on his loudspeaker

spitting metallic words into the air:

Ferry inondoka! Ferry inondoka!

The ferry is leaving. Stop boarding!

The ferry is overloaded!

The gangplank is up; she

cuts loose from port,

travels 40 meters before

she starts to list.

Panic ignites;

the crowd staggers

as a solitary drunk sailor,

side to side,

lunging for higher ground.

People begin to peel away

screaming, groping, hurtling

one by one

to the black surface

and icy slash

of the propeller.

Seawater slaps the ferry’s hull,

bending to pull her angle

sharper, deeper—

Saturday, October 9, 2010

That last entry I actually wrote a couple days ago and only had a chance to post it now. It was right after class and I was pretty bummed, but at the moment I'm ok.

This weekend has been interesting. Yesterday after writing poetry all morning (sigh, how wonderful!), Isaac and I went to run some errands. We got back in the car at Huckleberry's grocery store, and the car didn't start. After trying to roll start it, I called AAA, and they tried to jump start it and couldn't. So they towed us to a shop, which was closed, and they fixed it today. Turns out it was the battery, which thankfully is cheaper than if it was the starter or something (so I'm told), but still, expensive and a hassle. Yuck.

This morning I hung out with a couple girls from my program, Ann and Frances. We ate pho at a Vietnamese restaurant and talked about our various experiences living in Asia, and then we went to Manito Park, which is huge and has six gardens. I am making an effort to hang out with people, though for some reason it's been hard for me. Tonight Isaac and I are going to a game night thing with some other people from EWU.

Staying positive

School is not my identity. Writing is not my identity.

I have to remember this when my nonfiction professor calls me out in class because I’m the only one of 17 who hasn’t joined in any of the discussions. And when she calls on me, I have nothing to say.

…when I actually do have good things to bring to the discussions but I can’t get the words out.

…when my classmates talk about writers I’ve never heard of and use words I can’t define (ALL the time).

…when I realize people are making friends with each other, yet I still hold everyone at arm’s length, constantly putting myself on the outside of circles and imagining that’s where I belong.

…when I read poems that are impossibly amazing.

…when I read poems that are terrible but people praise them, and I wonder what’s the point of trying to write well, if it’s so subjective?

…when I realize there is always someone better suited for the things I’m doing—the internships, the writing, the GSA. I find I’m not nearly as good at things as I thought.

…when I spend all day reading and writing for class and feel guilty for taking breaks.

…when I fall in love with writing, and then find this romance shattering my heart when doubts arise.

...when I look back on the only poem of mine that I love and realize I can never do it again.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Hello, Office Job

As of yesterday, I found myself working 8 hours a week at Get Lit!, one of the programs I'm interning with. And turns out it's 8 hours of sitting in front a computer. Which sometimes I love (after all, my grant writing job was the best I've had), and sometimes the minutes DRAAAAAG by. Right now all I'm doing is researching the bios of the authors who'll come to the big literary festival in the spring. Eventually it'll be blogging and writing press releases and articles for the program guide.

Classes are going well. The nonfiction class will not be my favorite of my two years in the program. It's focused on pre-20th century essays, and the ones we've read seem self-centered and pointless, not to mention tedious. The only reason I'm enjoying it at all is because I'm still a little in love with simply being back in school again...reading, thinking, reading, writing, reading....

Poetry workshop has been more comfortable and pleasant. Reading poetry and discussing each others' poetry. We "workshopped" for the first time last night, and everyone was SO nice, even about poems that weren't great. I hope people won't sugarcoat it when my stuff needs serious work.

It's so interesting being part of a secular school as opposed to the Christian college I went to. I can see the differences even in the philosophy of writing. So often I think, "What's the point?" Writing seems like a way for people to love their own voices, nothing more.

Theoretically, each credit is 3-4 hours of work per week. So that puts me between...42 and 56 hours. Oh, actually doesn't seem so bad when I add it all up.

Isaac and I are getting involved with a church we really like. It's called Vintage Faith (I know, right? Everything cool is "vintage" these days, so annoyingly trendy). They meet three times a month at a girls' scout building nearby and then have one week of "scattering," where the small groups (called community groups) go out and do stuff together in the community. We're part of one that meets in my neighborhood, and we've hung out with one of the couples--Aaron and Erica--from it once or twice. The heart of the church is SO solid... focused on doing life together rather than the unhealthy church model of only going on Sunday mornings. And so deeply Christ-centered, so real, grounded, actively helping people.

I wish I could get as involved as I want to in the things that are available. There are so many cool people to get to know and events to go to and new places to explore and student discounts to take advantage of...and...homework. Oh, yeah.