Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

what we get

There is nothing quite like standing in line at DHS. There is a feeling of utter isolation and communion. Quite contradictory, I know.  It is comparable to the class one must take as a college freshman on study skills. No one wants to be there; everyone must be there. There is this false sense of comradery. People standing in line speak to each other on familiar terms, knowing that everyone in the room has at least one thing in common.

Everyone shows up at the last minute, hopes for the best, and finds disappointment.

In a small town, this isn't quite the same, since one may be familiar with the people offering their services, but in a larger town... well someone should change the old standby to read: Hell hath no fury like a DHS receptionist. It has a nice ring, no?

The thing is, everyone there, waiting, does have something in common. We have all been stuck under one label which is entirely inadequate. Not to sound entitled, but where is the reform for the impoverished? Handing over an EBT (Electronic Benefits) card just isn't working. Some are simply stuck, for worse not better, in their situation. Isn't there something more that could be done, something more beneficial for everyone?

I walked into the clinical waiting room today to see a line of people trying to wait as patiently as possible. I wonder about their stories, about what they may have lost, how they feel. I wonder what most of the people on assistance would say to the change to get more education or to working a factory job.

I know the stereotypes. I know that people on HUD, SNAP, TEA, whatever are all supposed to be lazy bastards sitting around all day getting fat on TV and frozen dinners. This isn't what I see though. I see a group of people forced into one room trying to be polite and not show their embarrassment.

I know that I use assistance to be able to raise my child and go to school to finish my degree in English. One day I will give back and do so gladly. I know that everyone needs some help sometimes. I can't help but wonder how the great minds of the past would feel about the ways in which government assistance works these days, about who reaps the most benefits. What would Emerson say? How about Marx? Jesus? Ghandi?

Saturday, June 2, 2012


Around the time I began drinking coffee black, I suddenly rocketed into true adulthood. This realization left me wondering... is it possible to find solace in a cigarette or a cup of coffee? Possibly in both. It truly is the small things.


I recently listened to a podcast on poetry. One writer spoke about insomnia, how she found the waking hours of the night more comforting and thoughtful. Possibly this is true. I don't happen to know much about insomnia; sleep tends to be high on my priority list. Tonight I've stayed up all night, for once it wasn't about drinking or studying. Good morning.

I've just been thinking. Lately my writing life has come to a halt, so much reading leaves little time for writing... or thinking about anything other than assigned readings. So many writers seem to take the road of pretentiousness. I always find myself enamored with these authors and philosophers, yet I often find myself mentally yelling at them to just say it, already. What is the point? Make it! I admire the author who makes a point quickly and with care to make the reader uncomfortable. Of course, my love for William Faulkner would prove incongruous with this statement.

 Lately, for kicks, I've been watching Sex and the City. This is something that I would not have admitted a year ago, but I've found myself thinking about the points that the show makes. Sure it is no deep, difficult show, but that is the point. Deep and difficult get old at some point, especially as a literature graduate student. Carrie is always asking questions in her column. The point isn't in the show itself or the questions she ponders; it is in the fact that is always examining herself and her choices. She asks others to do the same, and I like that. That is one very important quality of a good writer. Tonight, rather today, I have been thinking about the past. Carrie would ask, "Can we ever escape the past?" She apparently cannot, since she steps into a past relationship with a new spin on it in the last episode. So possibly we cannot escape the past, but isn't that a good thing? Why even attempt it? Just make peace with it. People do change, and people don't change.

Recently I've realized that it is okay to admit to liking romantic comedies and dramas. It is okay to wish for Bon Iver tickets while simultaneously wishing to relive a Prince concert. In my more recent past, I watched a dear friend experience unrivaled teenage joy at a Tom Petty concert. I heard Regina Spektor sing acapella on the same night and experienced a similar teenage joy. Joy: that fleeting feeling of everything being right in the world. How wonderful. That night led me to a realization. I've spent so much time chasing joy, trying to figure out what would bring me joy, making things up that would bring it to me. Finally I figured it out. One cannot chase it; it simply happens. All I can do is be aware of joy when it rears its lovely head.

 Folklore taught me how to see the past, how to gain insight on the ways in which attitudes and folk influenced history and stuck around for the present. Now I just need to apply these lessons about performance and context to my own past to see how certain ideas, people, and stories affected my own story and my own opinion. Reading books by contemporary writers from Appalachia (different class; fit nicely) helped me gain a sense of place and be okay with my love of the South.

Now that I look over these musings, I see that I've made no point. Sometimes though, that is the point. My language will never be all fluffed and contrived. I'll continue using the words I know.

 My plants are growing; the girl is growing, and I am growing.