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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

This I Believe #3, 2011

This one's due by noon on Friday, February 11th.

10 comments:

  1. This I believe #3


    I look around, unfamiliar faces all around me. They stare, their brows furrow deeper into disdain or incredulity as they gaze at me, sizing me up. I know I don’t fit the stereotype…smart guys aren’t “built” the way I am, even though I don’t consider myself to be “built” in any way. I know I’m large…I’ve accepted this. Why can’t they just stop? I’ve done nothing to them...or maybe it’s due to what they think I MIGHT do. They believe that I don’t belong here. I want to be here no matter what yet they still don’t accept that. Looks are everything; first impressions, likability, how to organize people into niches. I guess I’m the black sheep of the herd due to my wish to learn, to be knowledgeable. This desire is what has put me into a den of those who believe I don’t belong here…I know I don’t LOOK intelligent but I should be given a chance, right? It might not matter, though…I go into classrooms and those biting looks aren’t just coming from other students. My own professors and advisor do the same thing…they treat me condescendingly as if I come from a neck of the woods that’s many years behind. So maybe I am; does that give them the right to treat me differently than others? They claim to be “liberal” but I still see it. I see those remarks right behind their eyes. After class, I ask my friends “What did you think of me when you first saw me?” They all say the same thing. With a confused look they state “I can’t remember to be honest.” I know what they thought; “Here’s a good example of a thug.” I remember a time where one friend, after repeated questioning, revealed that she was afraid of me for a time. Why? Why was she afraid? I go to bed with this swirling and cascading in my head. That simple statement has haunted me from middle school to today. How many others have I scared? How many friends have I lost because of my thuggish looks and mannerisms? I don’t know anymore. Now, when I get those looks, a piece of me dies…


    I believe in the evil of stereotypes .

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  2. i walk quickly, eyes down, watching the forward motion of my worn-out, marked-up chucks as they make their way down the cracked and crumbling sidewalk.
    i walk quickly; emotion has become my muscle – pushing here, pulling there, propelling me forward.
    stubborn tears course unbidden down the curves of my cheeks. i fight for composure, to appear calm, to seem normal.
    my breath comes quick, hard, short, gasping. i struggle for control, to maintain the steady flow of oxygen to my brain, which is flooded with thoughts…

    stop, don’t think.

    find phone, pull it out of pocket, push buttons.
    a ringing sound,
    and then, suddenly, a voice.
    he will meet me halfway.

    i walk quickly, eyes down, watching the forward motion of my worn-out, marked-up chucks as they make their way down the cracked and crumbling sidewalk, each step propelling me towards…
    i look up. green eyes meet green; something passes unseen between us.
    i exhale, take one last step,
    and then, suddenly, i’m safe.
    i collapse into familiar arms, sink onto solid shoulders, release anxiety, tension, pain.

    i believe in having that one person on whom you can always depend. i believe in possessing a sincere confidence in the ability of another to comfort and protect you.

    i believe in security.

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  3. We’re standing by the bathroom in a hotel in Ashland. I don’t come back home very often, but these are extenuating circumstances.

    “Hey man, you wanna do some of this eighty with me before Abby gets here?”

    That’s my friend. He’s on military leave, back to visit his fiancée and help move her things back to Colorado. Up to this point, I had been so proud of him.

    I’ve known him for a long time, and I know the horror stories from when he was a full-blown user: ranging from the terror of helping a friend suffering from overdose to the disgusting recklessness of shooting up while driving. He had prison time hanging over his head: the only reason a pseudo-anarchist would consider joining the military.

    I knew him when false rumors of drug dependency were spreading about me. The lie didn’t bother me. It was the way people took it, the way they simply accepted it. No one called and asked how they could help, they simply wrote me off as a lost cause: another Eastern Kentucky pill-head. I lost friends over it. Old friends.

    He wasn’t one of them.

    But at this moment—in the hotel room after our friend’s wake—I just want to shake him.

    Then I stop. There was a time when I would have at least considered his offer. In a way, this is him confiding in me; knowing that I will not judge him in the way that others would. He is ashamed, but hopes that I will not force him to feel it.

    If I were someone else, I might have left him right then. But I know what it’s like to have a friend struggling with dependency.

    I’ve written about them, attempting to refer to them in poetic terms of phoenixes, but they’re really just people. But that’s the thing: others need to understand them as “just people”: as friends with an addiction, not simply “an addict”.

    I believe in concern.

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  4. When the fan kicks on, even though you have you the heat turned up as high as you dare; and you know that it thinks in its machine mind that it has gotten away with this denial of your computerized orders, because surely no one is awake to know.

    When the sun starts to peak through the streets and the trees, and warms the outside of the shades just enough that you know you will be jolted awake just when you think you've finally fallen asleep, by the sound of an alarm reminding you that the day waits for no one. No matter what time you lost consciousness.

    Sometimes the red in the sky makes your body frantic to fall asleep, knowing how little time it will have to escape its weariness.

    You sort and organize.

    You clean things that you cleaned a few days ago. You fiddle with nothings, and make friends with people in different time zones so that you never feel alone.

    You let insomnia create an entirely new twenty-one hour schedule for your day. I believe in 4:02 in the morning. When people who work in the mornings are clinging to the remnants of sleepiness, and I am trying to force myself to fall asleep.

    When even laying in bed in the dark with the most boring episode of a show that the television has played an uncountable number of times trying to lull me off, doesn't bring me a reprieve.

    I believe in 4:03 in the morning, when I realize that I've been tired for weeks but am incapable of being sleepy.

    I believe in 4:04 in the morning. When I know that I will eventually sleep for a couple of hours before work and class and friends who never see 4:05 in the morning call me back into the waking world which will hold me captive until at least 4:06 the next morning.

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  5. I have never spent a dime. Well, maybe once; I can't really remember.

    When I was born, family friend Granny Pierce gave me a tiny little piggy bank that held $35 dollars in dimes when full. That's where it all began. My parents, and then me when I was older, never spent an actual dime. We put every single one in that little bank. A few loiterers were also always in my dad's change bowl, in transit but not yet arrived at the piggy bank final destination. When the bank seemed full, though I never remember it getting all the way to $35 dollars, I'd roll it and all the other change my dad would put in his heavy bronze tray at the end of everyday. An afternoon long task for little me, of counting, re-counting, and counting a third time and finally rolling. I'd fill out a deposit slip—with a little help from my mother—and go on the adventure down the road to the first place you could see past the corn field, my savings account at the bank.

    What does a 5 year old have to save up for? A registration for the ACT and college application fees; the very first things any of this money was spent on.

    I believe in myself, and my future, just like my parents did every time they gave the cashier 2 nickels instead of a dime or like Pa did when I was given a $100 bill for Christmas every year. I believe in the little girl that Mommy and Daddy believed in when 20 years ago they decided that the three of us would never spend a dime and they drove a mile down the road and opened the newest member of the family her own savings account. I believe in a maroon check register held together by tape that a eight year old proudly added her own interest to every month.

    Though I may never spend one, I believe in dimes.

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  6. Yes, stereotypes are an evil force, Cody. They prevent us from seeing people, from being able to reach out to them long enough to figure out who they are. Most of us have to deal with stereotypes. Though this may not be comforting to you, please know that you are not alone, that we all have to patiently endure the first few automatic responses, hoping that people will be thoughtful enough to start paying attention, to start seeing us.

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  7. I am so glad that you wrote this reflection, Clay, that you decided to give it to your friend's wife (did you?), that you continue to feel concern and care for your friends. I, too, believe in concern.

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  8. What a great structure for your reflection, Blair! I so enjoyed reading it, at the same time that I wondered how on earth you can function on so little sleep. Just think though, if you wrote something every time you couldn't fall asleep until 4:07 in the morning, you'd get so much wonderful writing accomplished.

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  9. Katie, I really like that you are making efforts to write within formats that express different ways of knowing (the imagination of a child in one essay and the lost composure of a person temporarily without someone to depend upon in this one). As I did with the first essay, I would like to encourage you to explore the loss of linear structure more thoroughly. Trust your readers to assemble your thoughts and use disjointed thoughts (when appropriate) to establish a voice that matches the ideas you are sharing.

    And keep experimenting with new ways to create meaning.

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  10. April, I would like to challenge you to spend dimes on yourself before this term is over. Habits are habits and some of us maintain them easily. This essay defines one you have established and probably benefited from by the way in which you spend the dimes you have saved from casual spending ( you spend them as rolls of coins, to purchase other forms of money).

    I am challenging you to buy yourself something like ice cream from an ice cream truck--using only dimes. I hope you would, then, write about dimes again--after you had taken an action that would knock your beliefs off center.

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