Rationalizing My Bad Writing: Nature and Transition

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I help my mum out in writing sometimes. Not because I can do better than her – she has to spend at least a half hour editing each and every one of my feeble sentences – but because a.) I want to write something outside my emotional outbursts; b.) I feel like helping her and; c.) I really want to use the desktop. I’m attached to it, okay? The laptop gives me a stiff neck and my phone drops onto my face too much. This one is decent and polite with me.

Most of her writing is connected with freelancing, and she now just started contributing to an international travel blog. When I deduced that her butt must be sore from sitting that long in front of the computer, I offered to do research and write the next couple of posts down (and sneakily opened my email). At first, doing her article was okay. Until two hours into it I felt like sobbing and kicking our front door open, for me to rush out and run across the world.

It was one of her contributions to the travel blog, which was – uh, duh – about travel destinations (twenty kid-friendly ones, to be specific…), and while she had inserted a line or two (or three, or four…  Or a whole paragraph) about her personal experience, I had none. My paragraphs were stiff. Experience means first-hand knowledge. I was staring at my preferred adjectives like picturesque and magnificent, with phrases like thrilling experience and unforgettably beautiful, and then look back at Google images.

It’s not particularly concerning. I’m fifteen; there’s still plenty of time to wander about when I’ve reached a higher education, achieved a Nobel Prize, committed a crime, etc. Besides, I get dragged to some of the places she goes.

But the thing is, I don’t want to get dragged. I don’t want to wait until *insert life achievement here*. Scratch that, I don’t want to wait at all. And it’s nothing to do with wanting to grow up to be able to – I fear adulthood. Speaking of fears, however, this one gives way to my reasons: I fear change in nature. Though change embodies both sides of the coin, with nature, it only seems to get darker. Well, for us.

It’s just that human beings have got such a short visit on this planet, and the way things are going, I wouldn’t be able to visit the places as they are now. My mum used to tell me tales of undiscovered islands she wanted to take me to soon, but in a span of two years it is now full of tourists and establishments. She used to tell me the story of a place that went isolated during colonization; a town that looked like a secluded paradise, but now its citizens are never given a quiet moment with the amount of people arriving. How many more are out there?

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IF YOU LOVE ME LET ME GOOOOOOOOOO

Not that I don’t want these places to be discovered and enjoyed, but when they are, they’re usually exploited. They become crowded and littered. They lose the sheltered, otherworldly atmosphere; the peace that gives way to reflection and union of and with nature. I want to go right now, before everything transitions into something unrecognizable. I want to be able to tell my own stories about my own adventures. If I had the opportunities to go and preserve nature, I would – for the sake of sustenance and bedtime stories.

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A Reaction: Go Set a Watchman’s Existence… and Atticus Finch.

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I just read this article last night. Apparently, To Kill a Mockingbird was born after Harper Lee’s editor became interested in the flashbacks that were in Go Set a Watchman. There, Scout is referred to as Jean Louise Finch, 26 years of age and in a relationship with a man named Henry Clinton, and is going back to Maycomb from New York to visit her father.

And there, Atticus Finch turns from the wise 50-year-old lawyer to a 72-year-old racist. His lines in the book were filled with hate speech, and Scout – I’ll probably never quit calling her that – is in the same situation of confusion and disillusionment I’m feeling. I’m sure I’m not the only one, but I’ve ranted to family and friends and so far all of them reminded me he was just fictional.

Maybe there lies the problem: I’ve made him real and sanctified him in the process. I feel like I’ve been betrayed by my own parent. Atticus, ever since fourth grade, has been my role model. He’s the reason I turned to wanting to study to Law; to do the same thing he did for Tom Robinson. I even memorized his speech to use in an oratorical contest. And if I ever had kids, I’d want to be the parent that he was.

How could such a transition happen, though? I mean, it could be that Atticus stood for justice because he knew Tom Robinson did nothing wrong. It never meant that he wasn’t a racist. The book could be further about empathy; to be compassionate to everybody, even those with bigoted views. It could be about growing up once more, and realizing the truth about justice. Or maybe it’s about the fact that Atticus Finch was moral in the way he didn’t let his views cloud his judgment on what was right. I’ll never know until I read the book, reread Mockingbird, and just lie down making the connections (and probably marvel at Harper Lee’s talent again.)

… I’m still hung up on Atticus Finch. Agh.

(Go Set A Watchman is going to be published on Tuesday though!!!)

Aside

I know myself – I’m stubborn, regretful, and my impulsive actions generally lead to the latter. I’m desperate enough to go back and risk whatever pride I have left to salvage what I’d thrown away if I deem it worthwhile.

I do not know you.

Everything I’ve grasped about who you are is limited, and even then, you’re fickle. You’re a walking contradiction of words and actions. You choose who you want to be with people. What you do depends on what your emotions are, and most of the time, it is what benefits you the most.

I do not benefit you.

I am a strain on your time and decisions; the one factor that could exclude the rest.

I am a person out of billions.

In your life, I could easily be disposed of – once you choose to be heartless, you will be. You will have selective amnesia; maybe use the cracks in the canvas to neglect the beauty of art.

I feel you slipping away. Again. I’ve held you back countless times, forced you to look into my eyes and grasped your hands to stay with me; to fall in love with me again – to the point of never wanting to leave. And it’s funny, actually. Do you remember? Back then, I was the one letting go. Back then, you were the one holding back.

Back then, I told you that people came and left. Back then, I told you it was the reality of life.

But all the while I was trying to convince you my words lost their conviction and I got used to the warmth of your presence that I felt cold when you said that I was right.

I feel you slipping away. Again.

You’ve got nothing to lose.

I remember my words and know that if it came down to a fight of what would be good for the both of us, you would win, with my past self echoing what you’re saying.

I feel you slipping away, and like before, I grasp your hand and will you to see me again, to hold my hand as tight as I do with yours.

Back then, you did.

You no longer do.

White Rage, the Hunger Games, and the Lack of Justice for Eric Garner

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Olivia A. Cole

eric garner

Today, like too many days, I am angry. Today a grand jury voted not to bring criminal charges against the white officer who killed Eric Garner, father of six, with a chokehold. The killing is on video, which many people hoped would mean an indictment and, eventually, a conviction. Not so. Today, America tells us once again that the value it places in black life is nil, insubstantial, nonexistent.

The protests have already begun in New York, and I’m thinking about anger, rage. I’m thinking about things that burn. When the grand jury in St. Louis County announced that it would not be indicting Darren Wilson in the killing of unarmed teenager Michael Brown, Ferguson burned. Over the weekend, I saw the latest Hunger Games film—Mockingjay—and in it, the Capitol executes unarmed civilians, their deaths broadcasted for millions of eyes. I couldn’t stop thinking about Eric…

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2:25 AM

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i. Chyrsalism – (n.) the amniotic tranquility of being indoors during a thunderstorm. Also the tranquility that a certain kid likes being in and is the cause of never sleeping.

ii. I cringe at the thought of publishing anything titled 2 AM thoughts, but publishing just said thoughts is bearable.

iii. I was your parallel line. Past tense.

iv. I’m always addressing people I know I cannot name as you, and sometimes I even address myself. It’s a bit surreal how one word can hold so many names and stories, and how, almost, to every each and one of them, I write about regret. It’s one emotion I’ve always been afraid and ashamed to feel, along with anything even closely related to sadness. (I’m a bit too vulnerable; a bit too proud in admitting so – except on here. Point made with next sentence.) Which makes my writing a little like routine therapy. Which is, in my head, like following a diet plan: cast out all the junk emotions that’s making me unhealthy. The junk emotions transform into junk blog posts. How fitting.

v. I like the half-dark. I like grey. I like sunsets. I like the time that elapses in between midnight and sunrise. I love being in-between. I love seeing transition.

I fear everything absolute.

vi. Sleeping would be nice, only I think I’ve done it too much with three two-hour naps plus a nine-hour sleep. I’m paying the price, right now, with a hyperactive mind to boot.

vii. I don’t even feel the slightest need to close my eyes. I don’t mind. It’s been a while since I last saw sunrise.

Observations

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Living on an empty floor in our apartment for how many years, it’s always been odd to hear the creaking of life inside those other doors. All the more so when they started lounging about the balcony. Empty spaces filled. Voids escaped. I must have looked like a child who had never seen a fellow human being her whole life with the way I’d sneak glances at them. Predictably, however, the initial curiosity wore off. I didn’t panic hearing a baby cry in the middle of the night (with the knowledge I was now accompanied by a family next door. I would’ve run away if there wasn’t.). I no longer looked up and watched when somebody would pass by our floor with the landlord – it was no longer an anticipated experience to actually have neighbors. People were here. Living. Breathing. I grew accustomed to their presence.

But what I never got over was the grandfather living with his family inside the last door of our floor. No matter what time I’d go out in the afternoon, he’d be there, head bent down, hands positioned on the railing. By the time the sun has set and I decided to go out (or be forced to), he’d still be there. Gazing down at the same people; the same space.

My first thought – besides the questioning ones that was a variety of, “How’d he manage to stay in the same position for hours?” – was to wonder if he was looking at them with regret.

It was basketball, after all.  It didn’t matter that our street didn’t even have a court. It was merely one of those steel hoops attached to a long piece of wood and settled against a wall. Street basketball, played by young men in their choice jerseys or bare chests. (I didn’t question how they remained playing for hours. My brother used to be out all day with a ball and didn’t care for dinner.) The image of youth and bliss.  He remained staring at them for such a long time that I wondered, as I said, if he was stewing in his regrets: the usual ones, of never trying or taking everything for granted. Then I slapped myself for even having that as my first thought about him. Old age didn’t automatically mean misery. Was he making notes? Was he a former referee? Player? Did he miss the old days? Was this his form of entertainment?

I watched him as he watched them. My curiosity rekindled because of the time that I have seen him – watching a basketball game – and because of a time I know nothing of: the cause why he was doing so. And all I could think of before going back inside the house was that if he wasn’t some sort of basketball fanatic back then, he was probably on one of the either end of the emotional spectrum. What I would give to look into life playing out and become attached to it because of the memories I could recount. What I’d risk to never look into life playing out and stare for such a long time with regret eating me up.

Or maybe their TV wasn’t working and the people were his form of entertainment. Goes well either way.

Aside

The inevitability of reality might crash down on us, my doubts whisper. We’ll never make it. Not then. Not ever.

But every time your fingers intertwine with mine I know we’ll try. We’ll hold out. We’d stand a chance. Even with the odds against us, we will. And maybe then we’d make it; create our own reality to crash into – one with our own fairy tale in it.