Wrote this a year ago. Applicable now, and I keep needing the same reminder. You can’t make another person want you back.
Wrote this a year ago. Applicable now, and I keep needing the same reminder. You can’t make another person want you back.
I don’t know when, exactly, this became hard again. After a brief hiatus last year, it never really felt the same to come back to a blank document and write about how I felt (as if that’s something worth reading in the first place). It’s not lack of feeling that’s been keeping me away, nor is it a fear of the words that I would put to those feelings. At some point, I became more afraid of what people thought of me for what I wrote—my parents, my friends, even people I didn’t know—and that my voice would taint their perception of me, or get me into trouble that I didn’t need. I had (have) this reoccurring image of everyone whom has ever complimented me, or encouraged me to continue with this blog, turning around and laughing about it three seconds later. The bigger part of me is still struck silent by that image.
So why this—why now?
A series of events. First, a gnawing feeling that’s had me itching to write for far too long. Not essays, not shitty 4am poetry, not screenplays or tirades or petty thank-you’s. Just writing that brings me back to the creation of this blog, and the purpose it served me—ME. Not the rest of the world that might be looking in.
Second, a piece of conversation I overheard while checking in people at a downtown yoga studio.
“We’re all the same, underneath everything. The parts we don’t like about other people—those are the places where they’re just rubbing on old scars you’ve built up. They’re surfacing what’s been scabbed over, and we’re reacting to that pain.”
I took that home with me and mulled it over for the rest of the night. I reached around to the backs of my legs, my palms, my pointer fingers and felt the scars there as though they were hours-old scrapes. I am lucky, I am loved, but I still know pain. To think that my interactions with others are so affected—that my dislike, or my animosity toward another person is still affected by a scratch someone else left years ago—it’s empowering. I’m still struggling to fully realize this philosophy that she imparted upon me (yogi’s have some of the best wisdom), but I’ve no doubt that beneath it lies a great power in both diagnosing our weaknesses and chronicling the stories that we weave between each other.
Third. A birthday gift from a friend—printed notebook paper covered with deep red hibiscus (unknowingly, she picked my favorite flower) and thick note cards embossed with a large “E”. She encouraged me to own up to my writing, to stop giving up on my words simply because I was a little afraid. She took my old wounds and split them open, then reminded me how I healed them all in the first place. (Thank you, Sam.)
And fourth. A coffee cup at 6am that caught the first bit of sunshine peeking through the dense morning fog. The words “What do you stay awake for?,” and a reminder that this will always be here, waiting for me to come back.
So here I am. Judgment be dammed (we all know I’ll be anxious about this for the next five hours but I like the romanticism of how not giving a shit sounds). I can’t promise that I’ll stick around for good, or even for the next week. But I can promise myself to be open and honest, to let myself feel my scars and to remember why and how they healed. I can taste my passion for writing, for words—the importance of selection, rhythm, rise and fall. This is something I know, something familiar, comforting and nurturing. This is a part of me, and although that doesn’t make it any less easy, at least I know it’s worth it.
You’re not doing well and finally I don’t have to
pretend to be so interested in your on going tragedy,
I’ll rob the bank that gave you the impression that
money is more fruitful than words, and
I’ll cut holes in the ozone if it means you have one less day of rain.
I’ll walk you to the hospital,
I’ll wait in a white room that reeks of hand sanitizer and latex for the results from the MRI scan that tries to
locate the malady that keeps your mind guessing, and
I want to write you a poem every day until my hand breaks
and assure you that you’ll find your place,
the world has a funny way of
hiding spots fertile enough for
bodies like yours to grow roots.
I miss you like a dart hits the iris of a bullseye,
or a train ticket screams 4:30 at 4:47, I
wanted to tell you that it’s my birthday on Thursday
and I would have wanted you to
give me the gift of your guts on the floor, one last time,
to see if you still had it in you.
I hope our ghosts aren’t eating you alive.
If I’m to speak for myself, I’ll tell you that
the universe is twice as big as we think it is
and you’re the only one that made that idea
Yesterday, I woke up from a nap to three notifications on my phone that bombs had gone off in Boston. In my still half-asleep delirium, I turned on the news, texted my dad, my friends. I tried to make sense of what had happened within the next five minutes and only found out the same things over and over again. There were two bombs. Three were dead. More than a hundred injured. And nobody knows how or why or who decided they were so full of hatred that they would plant little bombs of that hate among runners on a sunny day in the city.
I watched with increasing emotion for the rest of the evening, feeling headache and heartache come on simultaneously. I was useless, and rolled out of bed to go to a coffee shop only to continue staring at my computer screen.
When I woke up this morning and checked the news, the story had changed. Now, after exhausting an entire cycle of the President’s remarks and terrorist analysts being pounded with questions on who they could speculate was behind the bombs, we were told of the heart of Boston.
Patton Oswald’s beautiful message speaks to this embodiment of humanity in the face of tragedy—that we are a good and benevolent people who cannot let the bad inside us, inside those who aren’t so good, bring us down.
“The good outnumber you. And we always will.”
The people who acted on this decay inside them will probably be watching the news now, too. And if they are, they’re seeing the touching efforts of a city to unite in the effort to house and feed the tired and broken. They’ll see the outpouring of love for a little boy who left this life too early, and the hope for his mother and sister still in the hospital. They’ll see a national consciousness that bands together to fight hysteria and responds instead to tragedy with dignity and a rightful voice for justice. They’ll see the runners that ran past the finish line, right on their way to the hospital to donate blood while the streets were still washed in red. The hospitals began turning away volunteer donations. I hope they saw that. And they’ll also see the runners that ran right back into the chaos of the aftermath of the bombs—spectators and racers both rushing to help those who couldn’t help themselves.
They can wound and murder and maim and terrorize. But they can’t take away the power in humanity to be good, and do well. This is a country separated by many lines—rich or poor, black or white, Muslim or Christian. But yesterday, we were all one nation. In mourning. Indivisible. And justice will come to those who have done us all wrong.
C.S. Lewis said, “There are far better things ahead than what we leave behind.” We have to believe that this is truth—for 8-year-old Martin Richard, for our nation as a whole. Taking hate and turning it into love might be the hardest thing we’ve ever done, but it’s also the thing most worth our while.
What are some of the books on your reading list, currently?
My bedside table’s got The White Oleander by Janet Fitch, A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf, Blood and Oil: The Dangers and Consequences of America’s Growing Dependency on Imported Petroleum by Michael T. Klare, and a whole lot of Harper’s Bazaar and Elle that I have delivered to my parent’s house and catch up on. And somewhere IN my bed are The Lazarus Project by Aleksandar Hemon (recommended to me by the author of this blog) and We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families by Philip Gourevitch.
If I have time, I wanna reread The Great Gatsby (F. Scott Fitzgerald) and Heart of Darkness (Joseph Conrad).
I’ll let you know how they go?
If you have questions you want answered, send them to www.westayawake.com/ask.
What do you do if someone isn’t sure that they want to commit to you?
I am actually so the last possible person you should be asking this question that I’ve been laughing about it for the last three days.
Are you afraid of commitment?
I’m afraid of abandoning ambition. (We strong-arm emotion and date with condition.)
How do you know if you’re in love with someone or you just love him/her as a person?
When I figure it out, I’ll let you know.
Are there any past relationships, friends or lovers that you wished you would’ve worked harder at? And in the end would it really have made a difference?
I love every single person who’s close to me right now without abandon and I know that any love I would have given to those from my past would have been undeserving and gone unreciprocated.
Pale girls are way hotter than tan girls imo
Then holla atchyo gurl because I am nearing eggshell status.
I don’t think I love anything more than this. This makes my soul happy.
I remember the first time
you named me “Good morning.”
And how, the night before,
you considered my ceiling,
where the passing cars outside
the passing cars outside
the passing cars outside
cast their shadows and liquid lights
through the slats of my blinds.
You said: “Hey Romeo–
your CD player is skipping again…
but your ceiling’s like fireworks for poor folks!”
And I liked that.
I like the tall pauses you take
when you tell your nephews knock-knock jokes.
And I like your theory
that men and women’s shirts button on opposite sides
so that couples can get dressed facing each other
after making love.
You seem to season your seasons,
your days, your time
with rhyme, not reason,
I’ve seen you. Daily. Nightly.
I’ve watched you housebreak a puppy
just by asking politely.
And your remedy for insomnia?
Is to pile every pillow and blanket into the tub
and you nap there like you’re taking
a patchwork bath,
and I said once: “Oh–I wish I had a picture!”
and you said: “Oh–I wish you and I had hot sex,
you gave me a pedicure,
and then elves showed up at our doorstep,
with a pizza, to tell us Jesus just built a treehouse
in the backyard, and he’d like to meet us both,
so hop in Hotshot!”
with a capital “We.”
And I’m grateful, I marvel,
you’ve helped me hammer
some of my worst manners into manhood,
but I still admit–I like the way your shorts fit,
and how, overall, you’d call me “smart,”
even though sometimes
I do really stupid shit.
And I like how you giggle with your lips closed
like you’ve got a secret little moon in your mouth.
But I’m not insisting you’re some kind of goddess,
(I know you’re suspicious of unspecific love poems).
You’re more like a sunflower,
growing in the courtyard of an old folks home–
you mean things to people on a daily basis,
and this petty poem won’t explain
just how “my favorite” your face is,
but I wish I’d been your bathroom mirror
the day they took off your braces.
You’re so pretty.
You’re like a vivid video game
and I’m the idiot kid
just trying to get to your next level–
I like your right-shoulder angel,
Hell, I like your left-shoulder devil.
I admire the lively deeds you do.
So if you come through a doorway again,
in a thrift store poncho,
or a drop-dead evening gown,
twirling and asking:
“Well, whaddya think?”
I’m gonna tell you:
“Shit howdy, Sunshine,
sit your fine self down!
If you’re looking for a compliment–
I think you’ve come
to the right place.”
I mean, yeah.
When my mom was 18, the doctor told her that she could look at any man in the world and get whatever she wanted because of her baby blue’s.
I like to pride myself in the fact that I can find words for anything — any situation, any emotion, any moment. Everything except those eyes. I come up short of words and short of breath every time I see them. I know she might read this (hi, i hope this flatters you), but somehow you’ve left me numb and unable to write anything better. My whole body aches from sheer, unadulterated happiness.
I haven’t been writing much lately, so I went back through a few posts to see where I drew inspiration before this block hit me. I found this, written about a trip on the train while I came back to Ann Arbor after battling a particularly bad case of Tonsilitis. I don’t think I’ll ever write anything as good as, “The sky’s the kind of blue you swear you only see in your dreams, the color your little sister wanted to paint her room when she was in elementary school before anyone realized that blue everything can take a person and make them sad.” I love that line. I want to write like that again. Instead, everything that comes out of my fingers is angry rants about sexism or sad, drunk monologues ending in half-awake shrugs.
Inspiration’s out there somewhere.
It might be time to create an entire column based on shit people do that pisses me off. Tonight’s version focuses on sophomore David Fontenot of, that’s right, University of Michigan. The 19-year-old computer science major, in all of his worldly wisdom, decided that his time was best spent creating an app called “Playbook,” in which bros can upload pics of their recent sexual conquests, and then cash in on it.
Providing sections for other dudes to rate these girls, Playbook not only degrades women by objectifying them (much like the personally loathed website BarstoolU), but also goes a step further. Mr. Fontenot and his peers decided that bragging about how hot the girl they bagged isn’t enough—knowing how good and how far she’ll go with you in bed was necessary, too.
I’d like to address David personally, and, hey, since he goes to my school, he might actually see this. So, dude, listen up. Women (like me, like your mom, your sisters, your classmates) are not around for the sole purpose of your pleasure. You’ve disrespected females everywhere, sexualizing them and objectifying them for your other bros to degrade. You are small-minded, and inconsiderate, and I hope that I meet you before I graduate so I can tell you personally how your app and your actions DO have the power to make any woman feel like complete and utter shit. Think about the influence that this has on ALL women— not just on those you hooked up with whom you clearly don’t respect.
For the rest of you thinking that this is all fun and games— dudes talk about this shit all the time! Deemed “locker-room talk” or whatever you wanna call it, discussion about women and their bodies have been going on far longer than the few days that Playbook has been in existence. Even girls do it, right? I know I’ve been guilty of kiss-and-telling about my experiences (after getting explicit permission from my partner).
But here’s where it’s different: David’s app creates a space in which women are seen ONLY for their bodies and their willingness to let a guy get a home run (he disgustingly calls them “plays”. Ugh). It leaves no room for the permission of the girl to be posted on such a site. It perpetuates oppression, of women being mere toys for men to pleasure themselves with. It rewards “going all the way” with higher ratings while failing to take into account the women themselves, their personal beliefs, and their right to use their bodies in any way they see fit.
I’m rarely ashamed to see something in the news that my school has produced. Tonight, I am outraged and pissed off and hurt that one of my fellow peers— a student only a year separated from me— can think so lowly of 50% of his classmates that he would create this app. I’ll always be a proud Wolverine but tonight…I’m just disappointed.