25 December 2008

'Twas the Night Before Christmas, and all through the house / not a creature was stirring--except me.

at two in the morning, a girl in her bed
realized sleep wasn't coming, and picked up her head.
she reached for the lightswitch to turn on the lamp,
hid her eyes from the brightness, and muttered a "damn."
even Santa'd be sleeping by now, she was sure,
having made his deliveries hours before.

so what's left to do in that time before dawn
when you can't get to sleep and the light's turned back on?
for a college kid back in her parents' abode,
not a hell of a lot. she'd been terribly snowed!
(but not by the white stuff that falls to the ground;
it was 50 degrees. there was none to be found.)

her mama was dozing, and papa still snored;
with no waking companion, she really was bored.
her brother's room just down the hall was quite dark,
but it wouldn't have mattered; her bite beat her bark
when they still lived together, and even though now
their exchanges weren't violent, she barely knew how
to keep up conversation. they weren't much the same:
she was into linguistics, he liked video games.

her frustrating awakeness forced some contemplation.
she figured she might as well try meditation.
she discovered her efforts were most absent-minded . . .
at least by that lamp she was no longer blinded.
philosophy wasn't the thing for tonight;
she could make up an answer, but it wouldn't be right.

she was too old for Santa, she knew that for certain,
but she couldn't stop peeking through her bedroom curtain.
maybe, just maybe, that sleigh would swing by
(but no one would believe her; they'd think she was high),
and Santa could give her a Christmas surprise:
a sure-fire method for closing her eyes.

she considered her options: she might have tried reading,
but she'd just finished one book, which had left her needing
to get out of bed if she wanted another,
and she knew squeaking floorboards would waken her mother.
so she did what any angsty teen does at home:
get a pen, and start writing a stupid-ass poem.

i will capture the spirit of Christmas! she thought,
then she realized the chances were practically naught.
although many had tried, and their copious verses
were some poor librarian's seasonal curses,
she couldn't help thinking the effort a crime,
for how could one fit Christmas in meter and rhyme?

even though Christianity no longer suit her,
despite years of nuns who had tried to recruit her,
she still hoped that Christmastime might do some good,
because Jesus was actually a pretty cool dude,
and the people who now gave Him another thought
might remember his message, so often forgot.

because Jesus had nothing to do with the gays,
with the war in Iraq, or with 401k's;
nothing of global warming or oceans that boil,
and although Middle Eastern, didn't care about oil.
His message was simple, and plain from the start:
BE NICE TO EACH OTHER! why is this so hard?!

she was quite sure that Jesus would not want the blame
for the majority of stuff people do in His name.
and that's what makes Christmas important each year:
the message goes out. maybe someone will hear
and remember to let petty differences lie,
because who wants to make the Baby Jesus cry?

with that thought in mind, she had new hope for sleep,
though the hour grew late. if only they'd keep
to that message, the new year could really be rockin'!
(but that might just be the insomnia talking.)
she sighed as she finally turned out the light,
"Merry Christmas to all! and to all a good night."

16 December 2008

writer's block

it seems like one of the most frequent comments in my journals/blogs/brain is "i feel like i should be writing more, but i just can't." maybe this deserves to be written about, itself? or maybe i'm just feeling at a loss for words and want to force something. either way, here's the attempt:

writer's block: the inability to write. "the temporary loss of ability to begin or continue writing, usually due to a lack of inspiration or creativity," as per the almighty wikipedia. "a usually temporary condition in which a writer finds it impossible to proceed with the writing of a novel, play, or other work," according to dictionary.com. (so dictionary.com is slightly less optimistic/more realistic, it seems.) the OWL at Purdue (one of my favorite writing resources as a student) lists several symptoms (which look more like causes) and possible cures for writer's block, but all that is aimed at academic writing, and only one "symptom" approaches a psychological cause for writer's block. wikipedia also suggests a few causes of writer's block, but it sounds--forgive my impertinence--like it's just a wikipedia article, whose writer may very well have been attempting something just like this (i.e.: self-analysis).

you would think that writer's block would happen most often in times of great personal stress or depression. this is sometimes the case/these are sometimes the cause.
in times of stress, yes, i have trouble writing, but that's mostly because i have neither the time nor the energy to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard, as the case may be) (that does actually help, often, because the words can flow faster and keep up with my thoughts). but then, when i have time and energy--or at least energy--i want to spend it doing other things. i want to live the things you get to write about later, not spend time recording them. at least, that would be an excellent excuse, wouldn't it? i haven't decided yet how much it's true. in times of depression, i think i write most copiously, even if no one else gets to see it.

so if the obvious psychological states aren't the cause of my writer's block, what is it? how about this: i quite often find myself unable to write in times of tremendous boredom. i want to write for lack of anything else to do, but that doesn't mean a story, a poem, an insightful essay falls out of my brain.

maybe it's the way i approach writing. i really don't see myself as a creator, in any meaningful sense. i consider myself an instrument for the creation of the piece; something else is working through me. this is why it's so hard to force. i can't just make it happen. (it's why my sonnets, the few i've been able to write in the last couple years, have been so bad: it's just fitting rhyming words into a well-worn meter, regardless of whether they should be there. it's like trying to put together a puzzle without having a painter to make the picture first. all the pieces are beige and blah, and if you ever manage to make them fit together, the result will still be essentially meaningless.)

so should i blame something external to myself? what is the muse? can you chase her down if she won't find you on her own? how long should you wait to try?

09 December 2008


as i'm going through one of my notebooks from this semester, pretending to study for a final exam:

People like to codify that which gives them power.

in context:
There are English-speakers who fear that Spanish-speakers will become the majority, and they want to make sure they will be able to maintain their power, even if they become the minority. [Therefore, they want to make English the official language of the U.S.]

but this could really apply to anything.