Devised Theater: A Venn Diagram

Devised Theater: A Venn Diagram
This diagram was created by the co-producing artistic directors of Rude Mechs to depict the complexity of creating and crediting collaboratively devised work for theatrical performance.

Monday, January 12, 2015

This I Believe essay #1

Please post your essay here before class on Tuesday. Please also remember to bring a printed copy of your essay to class and be prepared to read it aloud.


  1. Though I have only seen one of the eight peanuts contending for the title of “World’s Largest,” I am certain it is the best. Elevated 15 feet in the air, illuminated by floodlights, and floating above a giant crown rimmed with bicycle reflectors to scatter the light from oncoming cars off Interstate 75, the Ashburn, Georgia peanut—10 glorious feet of legume erected in 1975—is simply grand.

    Pearsall, Texas’ peanut is punctuated with holes where the shell collapsed under the pressure of rocks launched by the town’s derelict youth. Two years older than the Ashburn peanut, it was manufactured for publicity, to advertise Pearsall’s peanut production—55 million pounds each year. Emblazoned with a single spray-painted word, “BadAss,” it isn’t.

    Giant peanuts in Blakely, Georgia and Durant, Oklahoma sit at the top of engraved granite markers. They stand like tombstones marking the resting places of dead children with peanuts replacing more traditional sleeping lambs.

    If ever you have wondered why Mr. Peanut sports the dandy cane and monocle of an English gentleman, look no farther than Plains, Georgia. Its thirteen-foot statue proves that even Jimmy Carter’s charming smile looks terrifying when fashioned oversize in fiberglass as the only feature of a giant peanut. Perhaps a monocle would help.

    In Dothan, Alabama they painted their largest pair gold and scattered more about town. I suspect they are overcompensating for something.

    Floresville, Texas and Pelion, South Carolina are considered players only because their peanuts’ plaques say “World’s Largest Peanut.” Without the words to define these forms, I would have assumed they were overgrown potatoes or otters without eyes.

    Elizabeth Tashjian, who founded the Nut Museum in Old Lyme, Connecticut, collected them. She dreamed of a world full of nuts and gave that world a soundtrack with songs like “Nuts are Beautiful: The Lord’s Prayer of Nutdom.” Then, on January 29, 2007, she died. But not before admonishing the world, from her guest spot on late night television, to “protect your nuts.”

    I believe in Elizabeth Tashjian just as A.R. Smith, Jr. believed in his late mother, Nora, when he stood a 10-foot-tall nut beside the highway in Ashburn, Georgia in her memory. And I believe in making monuments to greatness.

  2. I believe in the dark.
    Black. Blackness. Dark. A void. I believe in that void.
    I believe in the dark because it seems empty,
    but is so much more full than we are ever capable of seeing.
    And we are told it is scary when we are alone,
    but it’s so much fun when we aren’t.

    Because it’s me and you, me and us.
    Floating in this backness, this open space where we exist -
    we can exist and THAT is enough here.
    It is pure, and honest and one of the few things
    that we all as people share and see in common.

    It’s not so scary when it’s me and you, me and us.
    We all get put in the dark sometimes but we find our way around,
    we get to know the boundaries of the walls and it’s edges,
    it’s like getting to know your insides and we find out that
    your insides and my insides are a little alike,
    and that makes us close.

    I want to not be afraid of the dark because I know it is shared,
    It is shared,
    so let’s not be afraid,
    It’s not so scary when it’s me and you, me and us.
    So I believe in the dark.

  3. My awareness of self doesn’t extend beyond the confines of my own mind. It is easy for me to forget that each person I have ever and will ever come into contact with is a conscious being who has lived a life that has been so absurdly and intricately different from my own. Each person has been influenced by so many people who are not me. For this reason, I often find there to be no reason for me to contemplate their consciousness as something as concrete as I know my own to be. Or at least that’s how I used to feel.

    There’s a Richard Siken quote that says “Steam rises from every cup at every table at once. Things happen all the time, things happen every minute that have nothing to do with us.” This is how I feel when I pass people on the street, when I smile at someone walking to class, when I imagine how the room must look to people sitting in seats other than the one I am in. Steam will rise from people’s cups even if I never see them get that coffee, but even more incredible that that is the fact that they even wanted that coffee in the first place.

    My first year of high school my father ended up in the hospital after having a stroke, a seizure, and an aneurism all in a matter of days. My sisters came into town the same night, one from Georgia, the other from Tennessee. My sisters are 20 and 16 years older than I am with husbands and dogs and babies and a developed knowledge of how to do taxes. How bizarre then that we were huddled around the same kitchen table in the middle of the night in a home neither of them grew up in but was the only one I had ever known. How bizarre that together we made a sign that read, “WELCOME HOME, STROKER ACE!” because my sisters were certain our father would immediately understand the reference, even though I never did.

    I remember my father smiling at the sign when he first came home, but perhaps even more than that I remember him taking me aside and telling me, “Don’t ever tell your sisters, but I have no fucking idea what that’s from”. How perfectly human. I can think of the exact moment I found myself coming to terms with my parent’s personhood and because of this I believe in searching for the same realization with every person I ever come into contact with. Or at the very least, reminding myself that the realization is possible.

    1. What a great story. And a great insight.

    2. love the perspective. Sorta related, I absolutely love airports because of how many people, from so many different places, going in so many different directions, in different walks of life are in the same exact place. People are running for airplanes, greeting a loved one, and saying goodbye all in the same place, if you see it or not.

  4. I believe in consistency. With that idea are many dimensions and topics. People or situations being consistent have heavily influenced these topics. One dimension of this earth, and the life on it, that is heavily influenced by consistency, is health. When the balance within the body maintains its equilibrium, or consistency, all is well, or should be well, with the soul. That person can go along with their daily actions, passions, and moods without it even registering as a memory. But what happens when the body fights itself and suddenly everything is far from consistent? By choice, a person can gain weight( excluding diseases that make the body gain weight) and not by choice a person can have a terminal illness, such as cancer. These two affects throw off the consistency of one’s health and sometimes forever influence their days on this earth.
    Another dimension of consistency is personal growth. A person can influence their ability to be optimistic, calm, emotionally strong, and balanced by simply continuously adding or subtracting something (or maybe even someone) into their life. One example of this is choosing to go to counseling. The consistency of counseling allows a person to obtain personal growth. Another formula for personal growth is meditation. If a person meditates once and then stops, it is not going to have a lasting affect. Finally, exercise has a large affect when performed with consistency. It is easy for this world, people and even yourself to say that exercise isn’t worth it, or doesn’t fit in to a day.
    The lack of consistency with exercise has such a negative affect on me mentally, that I nearly spiral out of control mentally and emotionally if not done everyday. For example, if I exercise then the rest of my daily tasks are approached with confidence and determination. If I do not exercise then my optimism, self-esteem and motivation have all been stolen from my day and attitude.
    With all this said, in conclusion I do believe it is necessary to talk about potential, important ideas that weave in. One idea that weaves into my belief in consistency is chaos. I believe that healthy, artistic, expressive chaos is consistently needed in my life. This chaos could be seen in me taking time to decorate, draw, dance or write. Lastly, I believe that honesty is a factor in consistency. If someone is in a bad place and war, terror, or any other harmful acts or thoughts are the only consistent thing present, at least be honest about that.

    1. As I read your reflection, I wanted to hear more about your own experiences with consistency (or lack of it). I understand that telling such stories about ourselves might be hard--they make us feel vulnerable. But a story can also bring us closer to understanding each other...

  5. Failure is an interesting notion
    It is something that many people claim to experience
    Yet I see them succeeding.
    “Failure is not an option” is a motto that people live by
    I too believe that it is not an option,
    But because I believe it does not exist.

    Freshman year, with the first “C” I recieved,
    I decided I might as well have failed.
    I was not used to that letter appearing at the top of my papers
    Or the bottom, Or emailed to me.
    I saw that letter more times than I ever thought possible.
    High school had been easy, no effort.
    But here I had “failed”.

    I listened to a speaker, at some dinner Transy had,
    Though they no longer had to impress us.
    He talked about how failing was okay,
    It is what you do after that matters.
    I thought back to the red letter C on my paper,
    and I thought “He must not have failed as much as me,
    because here is now, speaking to us”.

    A year passed, my grades were better,
    but I still thought of that first semester as failure.
    But it wasn’t. College, like anything, is a learning curve.
    So, I didn’t know how to college that first year.
    But I learned. I adapted. This is why failure doesn’t exist.
    (Outside of being able to disarming a ticking bomb)
    Because one can always learn, and grow.
    This is why I believe, failure does not exist.

    1. I like how you use "college" as a verb :). I like your belief, too.

  6. I believe there is always beauty in the ordinary.

    Much of my personal philosophy can be found in the television series, The Office. Never before has a show so accurately and comedically captured the less than exciting life of the average working adult as I have experienced it thus far. Given enough time, every work environment that I have been in has developed characters like those found in the show. There has always been a Jim and Pam, a Dwight, and a Michael Scott. It is for this reason that many of the lessons of the show have stuck with me so much more than any other television comedy. In the finale, the characters give their take on what the theme of the show was. Pam Beesly sums up the 9 season run by declaring,

    “There’s a lot of beauty in ordinary things, isn’t that kind of the point?”

    Never before had a line from television struck me so profoundly. Maybe it’s because I was growing disenfranchised with a life that I saw becoming more and more ordinary. Childhood dreams of being an astronaut or a superhero had given way to adulthood realities of taxes and rent checks. I was quickly realizing that the ordinary life is the only realistic one, and that realization was depressing. So when Pam, a long time office secretary and salesperson who constantly struggled with working a boring office job and sacrificed more exciting possibilities for the consistency of a paycheck and a family, confessed she finally found beauty in the ordinary, I felt like a fool. The ordinary life is not necessarily a wasted one. So now I look for the beauty in all the ordinary parts of my life. The beauty of discipline and knowledge found in monotonous homework. The beauty of consistency in seeing the same people every day. The beauty in the small acts of kindness those people are constantly doing for one another if you take the time to look around. The beauty of rhythm in day-in, day-out.

    Finding beauty is not easy, nor should it be. It takes patience, a careful eye, and acceptance that life is mostly, and wonderfully, ordinary.

    1. I see a few themes emerging in this week's reflections (this doesn't happen often) and your essay sums them up well: the beauty of consistency, of small acts of kindness, of the ordinary.
      There are many books that explore the beauty of the everyday, ordinary life and people... Thankfully, there is beauty.

  7. I believe in the power of music, the notion that in between all silence is the potential for music has been shaping my life since the very beginning. I can’t remember what my parents played for me when I was a baby, but I hope it was a mix cd of my mothers favorite Simon and Garfunkel tunes, or possibly her favorite Beatles love songs, I expect my mother curated all the music for a baby, my father was more rock n roll, sadly he’s a rockist pure at heart to 70s rock, but that’s ok.
    It’s amazing how visual music really is, closing your eyes and listening to a specific track can take you back to a specific place in your own life, it becomes your own little experience of that song. Every experience is different and unique much like our own individual self’s. I know I enjoy music a lot, it’s part of my identity really, I need to make sure that my friends know how serious I take music, may it be in a critical sense, just for pleasure, or as a tool for multiple other things. I have songs for everything, songs for contemplation, love, anger and every wash of emotion, I believe everyone has in some way songs that move do these very things.
    I’m not different when it comes to that, but it’s easy to say I am, and truly we all are, I mean no one enjoys every song I love, no one has the exact same thoughts as me when I listen to a song, no one pictures all of my friends and family, and that’s powerful. Music can easily be defined, yet it is felt and interpreted on so many other levels. Music is directly human, a tool humans have used for centuries. There is so much human history in song, it is an oral history and an auditory journey and listening to songs from our past directly taps in to our own history as well, that’s powerful. Music is an ever-changing part of my life; it is powerful and always will be. I believe in the power of music.

  8. I believe that the messier my bedroom gets, the more upset I have become. I am the kind of person who cannot compartmentalize my emotions, I cannot neatly pack up my feelings in feeble cardboard boxes and save them for moments when I am strong enough to look inside again, because I am almost never strong enough. I have never understood this advice to just save emotions for later like leftover spaghetti. What I feel affects everything I do and I do not feel quietly. I feel in natural disasters that cannot be stopped or understood. Sorrow spills out of me every where, in the clothes on my floor, in shyness of my voice, in the papers I did not write, onto the people I love. I wish I could feel in wood blocks, in legos, in numbers, but I don’t.
    This is why I believe anyone who gives me this well meaning advice has never known what its like to struggle with depression and anxiety. When your genetics encrypt inexplicable fear and unpredictable sadness into your being, you are not allowed to say when, where or how things are to be felt. It doesn’t matter how much you have or who loves you, sometimes your neurotransmitters refuse to let you veto their impact on on your joy. I have learned to instead to ebb and flow with the tides of my relentless fears. It does not matter if the world is crashing down around me, I must take time to acknowledge that I am not ok, and that the moon will always pull the tides out to sea again. I must recognize and accept my sadness whenever it comes knocking on the door, I must sit it down, offer it a drink and engage it like an old friend because no one I know has ever decided to cry softer when the people they needed became harder to reach.

    1. between the leftover spaghetti and your closing sentence, this is a beautiful and moving reflection about sadness. Thank you for sharing it.

  9. After Michael Brown and Eric Garner are killed by white policemen who go unpunished, I feel my whiteness acutely. I know that my skin color, hair texture, catalog-purchased clothes, and blond children announce my race-based privilege even before my accent broadcasts my European origin. Though years of critical thinking about US American race relations assist me in this social analysis, they do nothing to help me face people who feel Michael Brown’s fate may become theirs, is theirs already.

    Such thoughts harass me as my kids and I approach a bench in the lobby of Philadelphia’s Jefferson Station. An old African American man sits at one end of the red bench that contains the lobby’s only free seating. After hours of enjoying the big city, we plop down. We’ve seen two light shows (the Comcast Holiday Spectacular and Macy’s Christmas Light Show), watched people skate at the ice rink outside City Hall, eaten pizza at Redding Terminal, purchased gifts to take back to Kentucky, and sampled a kale smoothie. I don’t look at the older man, but I know he can hear everything we say, including my husband’s offering some still-hot Philadelphia pretzels, 3 for $2, which he acquired while the kids and I searched for seating. We are already stuffed.

    Shortly after the pretzels appear, our bench neighbor stands and walks to the train platform. I look at his back and am surprised to discover that he is no old man. In fact, he seems young—early 30s, maybe. Judging by his faded-blue scrubs, he must work at the nearby Jefferson Hospital. Judging by my previous inability to look at him, I must have a problem.

    Due to my training in critical thinking, I cannot gloss over this problem. I am still unsure why I could not look at the black man sitting next to me. It was not fear. It was not a wish to ignore him. I suspect it was a failure to deal with my own skin color, a feeling that made me behave just like I would expect a privileged middle-class white woman to act: without attentiveness, without even saying hello.

    So I’ve come to believe in looking people in the eye, even when skin color makes it hard. At least I will notice someone’s scrubs and wonder what fire they may have put out today, if a broken toe hurts.

  10. The kids at school always called me a boy, even though I said that wasn't true. Because my hair was short. Because I didn't fit their idea of "girl," so they thought I should be called something else. Granted, gradeschoolers aren't typically the most understanding of individuals in terms of personal differences, but some older relatives did it too. They'd tease me with "c'mere little boy!" or "you'd be so pretty if you grew your hair out." I had cried the first few times this happened, but my mom soon gave me a perm to quell the remarks. Because girls were the only ones that could have their hair done, and I was definitely a girl.

    During middle school I became interested in boys wearing dresses. I would draw them all the time, and I thought they were beautiful. But of course that meant I couldn't show Mom my drawings anymore. Because boys "being feminine" was wrong. 'Cause the Bible said so. Right next to where it said homosexuality was an abomination. And how boys can't have long hair or wear jewelry. And how women on their period should be avoided like the plague. And a great many more fair and just rules that definitely don't cause problems at all from the very moment each person is born (remember - blue clothes and gun toys for boys!). Stonings of Righteousness to each and all deviants! Or just...the ones that make sense. We can forget anyone who's ever lied or felt jealous even though "all sin is equal." Non-heteronormative males are clearly the real problem here.

    Of course, my foray into crossdressing boys wasn't really aware of any issues behind the practice at the time. I just thought skirts and makeup looked nice on them. I didn't know anything about gender identity or the existence of more than one sexual orientation. It was just "an artistic thing" I liked to see. I didn't seriously start thinking about these things - about anything in fact - until college. So I didn't talk to anyone about how boys should be allowed to wear and act whatever and however they want, because I wasn't sure myself that I should be thinking that. Even though it made sense to me, since girls were already "crossdressing" all the time at no one's disgust. They "acted like boys" by playing sports and hating Barbie, and no one got mad. But if a boy's favorite color is pink, something is drastically wrong.

    I've since learned a lot. But I still catch myself conforming to the stereotypes set into me from my youngest age. And not just as related to my gender. Humans are so obsessed with classifying "the others" that they have come up with all kinds of harmful and insulting labels ground into us from childhood that hurt people deeply and destroy their very lives. We feel more comfortable when we can label others, but we hate to be labeled ourselves. Why can't we just treat each person as a person? Why do we have to ask "are you male or female?" Why do we have to ask "are you white, black, hispanic, or other?" Why do people have to be screened before we know how well to treat them? Why do we have such a problem with those who do not fit into any of our selfish categories?

    You don't have to wholly agree to be considerate. You can be sensitive without being an -ist or a -phobic. You can be understanding without being dismissive or wary of non-sameness. It's harder to try to understand someone instead of relying on the boxes we force them into, and I am a perpetrator as well. But I believe more than anything that we must, if we ever want to be anything but disgusting organisms who kill and torture their own kind in these terrible ways.

    1. Also...I meant to say that it's important to not think of "looking at everyone the same way," because that erases cultural identities and individual qualities. But rather, not valuing someone lower or higher based on their categories which may have been imposed in the first place.

    2. You write powerfully and passionately. And I totally agree with your writing and your passions.

  11. Driving down Versailles Road towards home on a Monday night can lend a person a peculiar kind of clarity. For example: odds are good that you’re probably not speeding away from campus in the dark just to use an automated dishwasher. On this most recent trek, as on many other such excursions, first order of business is to queue a selection of tunes to fill the itinerary of a late night drive – I usually have a full roster by the time I reach Oliver Lewis. A little synth pop to bring out the sparkle of streetlights on the damp pavement, a couple ballads to make sure the adjacent driver catches a glimpse of a girl happy and singing, drumming fingers on the steering wheel of the car stalled in the fast lane of an outer city stoplight, then, to top it off, a guilty pleasure (you’d never guess) enjoyed from the privacy of tinted windows and hermetic seal. By the airport I’m usually pretty keyed up, ready to navigate the relaxed bends ahead and settle in for something gentle and wise – in general, Paul Simon.

    Alternately melancholy and hopeful, the quickstep of this album’s standouts keeps me quiet – sometimes I’ll smile to myself if I remember the look on my father’s face when I joked that his favorite non-Elvis was less a visionary than his compliment in two-part harmony. Too often I forget the simple pleasure of letting the world rush over and around me, what it’s like to bathe in the easy beauty of simply letting. it. be. On nights when I crave the isolation of the situational commute, I believe in Graceland and in the redemptive power of a pedal steel guitar.

    1. Two days after I wrote and posted this essay, another Versailles native was killed in a car accident on this road. When I passed Terrace View today on my way back to campus, I thought of him and this essay and how often I take comfort in a commute that could prove deadly without warning. I hope he and his companion have found solace in a Graceland too, whatever that might have meant to them and others affected by this tragedy.

  12. I believe that it is easier to help yourself because of another person than to help yourself just because you should.

    Anxiety has caused me problems for most of my life (it’s lovely how things like that can just come from your genetics). I never did much to try to fix it; it just did not seem like something that really mattered in the grand scheme of things. How important can a few panic attacks be when others have worse problems? So, I ignored the voice in my head that told me to get help and learned how to hide my panic attacks from the people I knew (hide in your room, pretend that you are sick, say that you are breathing funny because you ran up the stairs).

    It worked well enough for a time, but I eventually slipped up and had an attack in front of a close friend. He did everything he could to calm me back down and became comfortable enough around him to let him help me. It was a relief to not have my worries all to myself anymore. This led to me relying on him more than I felt I should. Everytime he calmed me down from an attack, I thanked him, but he was under the impression that he was hardly doing anything. I began to notice how my anxiety was affecting him; he slouched when he thought I was not looking and was spending his nights on the phone with me instead of sleeping. That’s when I realized that I was now burdening someone else and not just myself. This could not continue, so I finally started getting help on my own.

    Through this, it still is strange to me that I could go years telling myself that I did not need to change. I guess that it just takes seeing someone else trying to help you to admit that you need to help yourself.

  13. I believe good things happen in small amounts. Did you ever hear the saying, “Appreciate the little things?” If I told you, the audience, to name the last 5 bad things that happened, then I’d be willing to wager a pretty penny that the flat majority would be huge , monumental, and depressing things. If, however, I told you to name the last 5 GOOD things that happened, then I’d also be willing to bet my second pretty penny that they would be huge, monumental, and exciting things. “I got a new kitten.” “I earned an A on my research paper.” “I just celebrated my birthday.” “My grandma visited me.” What are some your answers? Whatever they are, I’m happy for you. Unfortunately, all too often we overlook thousands of good things that just happened. I got out of bed this morning and my shoes were in reach. I wore the right amount of clothes for the temperature outside. I got enough sleep. I can eat a piece of cake for breakfast and there is no one that can stop me.

    I learned to appreciate these this summer when I was cooped up in the hospital. I like to tell the story of the bendy straw to better explain this.

    When I first came into the ER I couldn’t move my right side, but I could still struggle. It was as if a large invisible boulder that I couldn’t feel was pinning my right side down. Only this boulder was my own body. A blanket felt like the world, and a cup of water was as heavy as the universe. Now those hospitals bed in the ER can only be angled so much, and because of all the weight on my right side I couldn’t lean forward. So there I was, playing Atlas with my blankets and thirsty much like Tantalus, and I was left unsure of how I was going to be able to drink without leaning forward. Just when all hope seemed dash in came my savior. Not a valiant hero on an armor plated horse, nor a doctor or nurse, but my mom. In a whisper that would have made the super hero daredevil say “What was that?” I said “water.” Luckily Moms have an 8th sense and she knew what her baby boy needed so she got my water, picked up a straw that had been laying there the whole time and proceeded to put the straw into the universe and bend the straw. Oh hell yeah, and with that bend making up for my not being able to lean I drank a small sip and promptly passed out. But that split second before I passed out, I didn’t feel like Atlas holding up the world, I felt more akin to being on top of the world because I knew I had just learned somethings. Appreciate the small things, because it just so happens that good things happen in small packages. I also learned that my mom was secretly a Daredevil, BUT most importantly, I have one final question. What is your bendy straw story?

    1. You ARE a masterful storyteller. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  14. I’ve got a new razor recently. Now, this is not your regular razor, it was made by some weird British company called Occam. Being honest though, I have never used it for shaving. Most of the time I bring it out when I am faced with situations such as “Should I scoop two teaspoons of Lapsang Souchong and use boiling water for a good cup of tea OR the only way to have good tea is to measure out 2.4056034 grams of Lapsang Souchong infused in a liter of water that is boiled to 98.8 degrees Celsius at 1 atm.” A more recent situation is that this person I admire from back home has not replied in over a week. Is it because A.) She forgot or B.) this individual is in a conspiracy of never replying to me since she absolutely despise me despite sending a prior message which showed curiosity and interest in how I have been.
    Before, my neurotic mess of a brain might have actually believed the hyperbole that is option B but, if I take a few seconds, pull out Occam’s Razor, shave off those unnecessary assumption and I find out that the simple was right all along. I have used this razor for many other situations and every time I pick the idea that does not involve overthinking, it is 95% right and is less mentally taxing.
    Admittedly, I do lose my razor sometimes such as when I finally get a reply from said person who I admire and I just sit and pace around the library with a silly grin lost in thought of what to say for a solid twenty minutes. Overall though, I enjoy living a life based off of going with ideas that result in the same as an overly complex situation, however is less complex which is why I believe in Occam’s razor.

    1. What a fun, funny, crazy reflection on your razor and your life!

  15. I believe in the process and hard work that goes into producing something with true authenticity. Recently I have become interested in going to flea markets or going through old “stuff”. “How do you know if a coffee table is legitimately old and made by hand or if a jacket is hand sewn”, I asked my mom; she said, “You just have to know your stuff.” Taking what she said quite literally I thought about the pieces of art, clothing, and furniture we do have that are authentic and put together a definition of sorts to justify them.

    I believe it must start with an original idea, which very well could borrow from other original ideas as inspiration. From that single idea comes a plan of action and that plan lays out a process, the part that I believe to be the most important. What if the plan consists of only one step; so, the final product is a black line on a piece piece of canvas hanging up in a museum. “Where is the process in that?”, one might ask. Or I will often hear, “I could do that.” Yes, in reality, a non artistic being could paint a black line on a piece of raw canvas and it be just as good or maybe even better than the one hanging in the museum, but this piece yields no authenticity. To me, the authenticity of a product, piece of art, or anything is not so much in the final result but in the process which produced it.

    Today, when art, clothing, furniture, and much more are becoming computerized I get scared and nervous that what I am doing right now will become obsolete in just a few years. So, to give myself peace of mind I remind myself that even if my work is no better than the next persons, there is a process behind everything which makes it special and authentic in its own way.

    1. You use the word "process" where others may use "craft" and where Sara Thornton (author of a few different art books) points out that the concept of craft should be freely expanded to include things like social interactions. Perhaps obtusely, so, but this is all intended to support your already strong points.

  16. This I believe…let your scars define you
    You know that feeling you get when you have done something really wrong? I think the best way to describe it is anxiousness, followed by what feels like a black mass in your gut and a lump in your throat. It usually manifests itself when you’re discussing a topic that connects to your crime, or more likely, when you’re talking directly to those you are keeping your secret from. It may not affect you at first but at some point it can keep you from eating, sleeping, or speaking. I’m not a Catholic but boyfriend’s mother seems to describe “catholic guilt” this way. It almost becomes a third presence in the room. This is all true unless you happen to be one of the lucky few out there, the sociopaths. I imagine they feel none of this.
    I want to open up to this group. But to be honest, I am not ready to fully open up. I have a few things I have done that I am not proud of. I wrote and rewrote this prose in hopes I could find a story from my life that could compare to those I have felt the most guilt over. Unfortunately some stories felt too forced and the rest seemed to be a direct admittance of guilt. But here is a fun fact: I am not perfect; I have scars, not just in the literal sense but in the figurative. Some scars are my fault; some are the result of the judgment of others. The more important truth is that I am certain I am not the only one in this room who feels scarred or imperfect.
    There are some days that those scars hurt a whole lot. If we are talking literal scars, there were a few last semester that I created when I burnt my fingers on hot glue guns and sanders and I simply hid my hands so no one could see how bad they looked. But, every time I had to wash my hands or walk in to the cold without gloves; I experience a burning and stretching I did not think I want to feel again for a long time.
    If I asked everyone here to find a scar on their body, I’m sure they could tell a pretty gross story to go with each one of them. Maybe your brother gave you stiches while you were rough housing when you were ten, maybe your scar is from something a little more life-threatening. But for the scars we can’t all see there is a lot of pain and guilt too. Most self-help books will try to tell you that to get over your scars you need to let go of the choices or mistakes that made them. The buzzword is usually define. You can’t let this, whatever “this” is for you; define who you are from here out.
    While I can agree that you can’t just let your choices or the people that scarred you define you. I cannot get on board with the idea that the scars don’t define you. Scars are you. The guilt I feel but can’t express to you all is by definition part of me. Don’t worry I’ve never murdered and I did not steal anything! But I did realize rather recently that moving on from that thing you did that was so wrong is one thing but taking it as a lesson is another thing entirely. If you believe in evolution, think survival of the fittest. If you can’t learn from your scars than you are no better now than you were the day you made them. My goal is not to harp here. I actually probably will always be a little too embarrassed to tell all of you what I did, I learned from the scar I received. I let my scar define me. It is what I know I am and I will move on but that’s just the end of the story.

    1. I find comfort in your statement that it may be only sociopaths who are free from feeling these black masses in their guts, the lumps in their throats. If this is true, I am not a sociopath and knowing that is a win.