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.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

This I Believe essay #2

Same as last week, 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. Snow is usually viewed as a beautiful phenomenon with the giving of beautiful white, fluffy powder that sits on the ground. We can play in it, eat it, throw it at one another, and even look at it from the window during a nice snow day--- that is, if snow days even existed in the world of Transyland. Which brings me to another point: how snow is also a nuisance. I felt completely inspired to write on this particular topic after freezing my toosh off after going to the grocery store.
    In fact, the grocery store was empty—not of people, but of food. How does a grocery store become empty of products other than hallmark cards and Valentine’s Day candy at this time of year? Just mention the word “snow.” That’s right- SNOW. It’s not that beautiful untouched powdery gorgeousness that we all drift to in our minds. Rather, it is practically the apocalypse coming (or should I say, snowpocalypse), which is conveyed through the poor driving, empty store shelves, restless lines, and students constantly checking their emails for the ever-hopeful school’s out update.
    Literally, on the first night of snowfall this year, the score is already ice/snow= 1 and Ashley= 0. I thought I could at least make it through a single day without completely wiping out on a solid sheet of ice. Nope. On the bright side, I only broke two eggs from my groceries in the fall. Even last year, I could not get down the Hazelrigg ramp to go to my flute performance without wiping out (Now that was a beautiful sight with a giant wet spot on your dress while being on stage-- NOT).
    I guess the whole point of this rambling monstrosity regarding snow and ice is: PLEASE BE CAREFUL. The truth is that conditions can be quite dangerous despite the looks of the peaceful perfection of the shimmery snow. God gives us such beautiful scenery in this world, and it is much better to enjoy it safely than become a victim of it’s seductive beauty, even if you think you are the world’s greatest ice walker or driver of bad conditions. Just don’t do it. While you make the decision to be safe, that also creates a lower probability of you or someone else getting hurt. On to another point: can we please have that snow day now, Transy? I think it would be great to actually get to enjoy it’s beauty and not attempt to cross the borders of Broadway….. and maybe some hot cocoa on top of it? I guess that is wishful thinking. All in all- winter is beautiful, but also can bite you in the booty (literally)- this I really do believe.

    1. I really enjoy the differences between your This I believe and Hannah's

  2. This might be oddly specific, but today--and every day since 2015--I believe in researching an author's wikipedia page before going to a book signing. First, think of all the cool facts you could find out! It could provide insight to the author’s writing style, show that you care, and teach you things that you might otherwise never find out. But the real reason I believe you should do this is to avoid any potentially awkward situations.
    My hometown--Madison, Alabama--is a suburb of Huntsville where one of the ten NASA field centers is located. That being said, a lot of science fiction fans live in the Madison-Huntsville area. One evening, I was accompanying my dad to a local “science fiction convention” called ConStellation where Orson Scott Card--author of Ender’s Game--was having a book signing. I’m a fan of Ender’s Game, so naturally I was excited to get my book signed. This was also my first book signing, so that made it even more exciting. Lots of people get their books signed by the author and I wanted to do something unique--I was going to ask him to sign it with both hands. Not at the same time, although that would have been cool too. I thought this would be a good tradition for me to start, as I hoped to get many more books signed by my favorite authors in the future. I waited in line for about an hour, and finally it was my turn! When I asked him, however, I did not get the answer I was hoping for--I got a simple “no.” I racked my brain for reasons why--was there some taboo against asking authors for specific signing requests? Should I just let it go? Should I ask why? Well, I did ask why and it turns out that he had a stroke a few years back and HE LOST USE OF HIS LEFT HAND. It was extremely awkward.
    And with that, I am now a firm believer in doing your research before you make strange requests. I could have easily avoided this if I had just looked. His Wikipedia page clearly says: “Card suffered a mild stroke on January 1, 2011, and was briefly hospitalized. He reported expecting to make a full recovery despite impairment of his left hand.”

  3. I want my words to roll off my tongue just like theirs and my voice to fill people’s ears in that smooth, effortless way that their vocals have learned throughout the years. If there is anything in this world that I am passionate about learning is languages. I believe in making friends in other dialects. Each mother tongue carries a distinct and unique characteristic that attracts my attention; the guttural r’s in French, the way that German for some reason sounds like yelling, the Spanish Antonio-Banderas-like accent, and many other things that I shouldn’t make into a list, because we should stay away from lists.
    This was not necessarily my first encounter with another language, but it is definitely the one I remember the best—I had a Korean friend who wanted to teach me Korean in exchange for me teaching her Spanish. I met her some time ago, in 2009 or so, at a conference held in South Korea. We sat next to each other on a bus and our friendship started with a simple “hello, where are you from?” Our mutual interest in learning the other’s language just stemmed from there; in five minutes we were fascinated by each other’s stories about our countries and how we said ‘hey’ in another language. Before I left, we exchanged emails and promised to try to teach each other even when we were a whole sea apart. You know, doing these kinds of things over email is really hard, but we were determined to learn each other’s native language and eventually visit each other in the future. Some things never last like how the green lasts in a virgin forest, though. We kept in touch for about a year and a half and then responsibilities got in the way. I haven’t heard from her since, but here I am learning Korean with my best friend, secretly hoping that one day I will live in Korea and see her again and she will be so impressed when I introduce myself staring with “annyeonghaseyo.”

    P.S. "annyeonghaseyo" means hello

  4. I believe in snow. Specifically, a lot of snow. I believe in days where even the busiest and most proactive people have nothing to do. They were already prepared for the day. Even if they have something to finish, an application due in a week or a little more research for their final paper, it won’t take the whole day. So they throw on every piece of clothing they own that will layer over the last and trek through the snow with all the people they forgot to make time to connect with this semester.

    Suddenly, being here feels like being a part of something, like somehow we’re all “surviving” even if our heat is still on and the caf still opens at least twice a day. The sharp steps of Old Morrison become soft, and their usual steepness goes from intimidating to inviting as we slide down them, laughing.

    Everyone does that in the snow, becomes softer, brighter. The refracted light, the adrenaline, the excess hot chocolate, the free time, the unexpectedness. The email early in the morning saying You Can Go Back to Sleep feels so lucky and well-deserved and satisfying that even if you do nothing all day it wouldn’t feel like a waste. But every time, I go out. I remember sitting on the 7th story of the district court parking garage, a deep gouge in the snow where Hannah and I crossed it, looking out over Lexington Blanketed and feeling like the only people in the world. We could have been. We went to lunch in our wet clothes and talked to everyone, shivering.

    In the snow, I fill my time with talking and drawing, and go to bed sore from climbing and running and falling. I believe in snow.

  5. I believe that we are all a part of the earth. There are few experiences more satisfying than finding a trail that leads to a beautiful view, getting tossed along on whitewater, or smelling the leaves in the air in October. Nature has been a huge part of my life ever since I can remember. When I was younger, I spent nearly all my time outside. In the summers I would wander through the woods behind my house until I reached the creek. I would spend hours with my feet in the water, imagining fantastic creatures all around me and listening to the splashing of the water as it rolled down the valley. In nature, I can let go of my day to day life. I’m never worried about my responsibilities or my struggles with my feet in the dirt and the sky overhead. Nature has the ability to make me let go. Go of the worry, go of the pain, go of the anxiety. Just by stepping onto a trail or jumping into a river, I feel closer to the pulse of the Earth, more whole than I ever could indoors.
    I found my ultimate nature fix when I was in high school. There are few things as therapeutic as Whitewater. The rivers in West Virginia are beautiful and wild. They will chew you up and spit you out if you aren’t careful, but they will also open your eyes to just how small we are in the grand scheme of things. My first whitewater trip, surrounded by my friends and under the supervision of an experienced guide, I was thrown out of the boat in a rapid fondly called “Stripper’s Hole” for its tendency to rip swimmer’s clothes off. I lost my shorts but I gained a lot of perspective. Being pushed under that powerful water made me think that we are all just a part of this bigger thing and that is often a great comfort. This I believe.

  6. This I Believe Essay
    In my dorm room, I have fashioned a box that will be a memento of this year. It is just a small box with flower designs, handles (indicating that it was, originally, a purse), and strange wooden trim. On the inside, the box was hollow when I bought it from a flea market type of place; the kind of place that is piles upon piles upon piles of hidden antiques and treasures amid dusty silverware and broken toys. Within the box, I have selected items that have meant a lot to me over the course of these past six months that I’ve been at Transy.
    There is a fragrance mist from Bath & Body Works, where my good friend works now. She gave it to me as a set in a Christmas present before she left to transfer to another, further-away college. She was my buddy that accompanied me to the Humane Society at least once a week and dragged me back to my car even though I found a dog that I absolutely ‘needed’ almost every time. I miss her and her thin, model-like frame; she was very talented at taking aesthetically pleasing pictures but that could be because there were so many taken of her.
    A Pikachu toy with wheels on the bottom lies at the top of the heap. I bought him at McDonalds after watching my lactose-intolerant friend eat queso dip and suffer the consequences immediately afterward. She, her boyfriend, and I stopped to get water to hopefully settle her stomach. I purchased the toy to distract her, as I have been in her position before as a fellow intestinal-pain-sufferer. Like the toy, she rides on like the true and determined activist that she is.
    Though I sound vaguely like a hoarder, I believe in collecting memories. There are definitely some things that need to be thrown out and eventually, I may give these objects up but ultimately, I will keep these people wrapped safely in my heart. So some people have scrapbooks, but I have the box. You could say that I believe in collecting people.

    1. I'm a collector, too! It's so hard to get rid of things that have even the tiniest memory or ghost of a person associated with them.

  7. Sixteen months ago, I moved away from the house I had lived in for 11 years.

    Six years ago, I pampered a volunteer tomato plant whose roots nearly rot from unusually long, cold spring rains in a two-tier garden lined with treated lumber and filled with racehorse manure behind my house.

    Sixteen-hundred steps stretched between my front door and the newly built glass-and-steel entry of the re-purposed warehouse on National Avenue. The steps multiplied if I walked along the road. I did not. Why would I when the tracks cut an arrow-straight line through the city, a line that ended at the French bakery where, late in the day, I could get for half-price all the remaining baguettes just before closing time.

    I put my ear to the same steel rails where they run near my new house. Proving previous perceptions wrong, they don’t end at the bakery. But I can’t hear the train. I can’t smell the roasting peanut butter of the factory I once lived near. I cannot feel vibrations.

    In four months, I will plant tomatoes behind my new house. Unfortunately, the sun doesn’t shine as brightly over my new yard. Neither is there an ever-encroaching bamboo forest from which I can cull stalks to build tomato trellises. I ache because sixteen months ago something half the size of a baguette was extracted from my chest. I believe my entire body is folding slowly inward to fill that space.

  8. I believe in basketball. I enjoy every moment when I am dribbling and shooting the ball. I started to play basketball when I was a freshman in high school, and I joined the basketball team my junior year.
    I always enjoyed to make the no look passes to my teammates, but I prefer to play defense, with the goal of shutting down my opponents and try to deny his shoot. I prefer to play basketball with my friends more than anyone else. I believe basketball connects my friends and I even closer. When all of us spend a lot of time training together and trying hard for the same goal (to win the games) we are forming good bonds and friendships. Basketball is a great group sport.
    Basketball can be very empowering for me when I try all kinds of the moves too. Every time I block a shoot, I feel strong, and every time when I make a shoot, I feel confident about myself. Being able to work out while I am able to play a game makes it more intense and wants me to go even harder. I get to run a lot on the court, and sweat a lot. Although I gain a feeling of excitement from winning, no matter what I have a good time.
    Basketball is one the the most popular sport in the world. I began watching Yao Ming play while I was in China, and since then he has been my favorite player. Although he does not play anymore, I support other players like Jeremy Lin and James Harden that keep me interested in the game. My favorite moments in basketball is when someone is able to make a game winning basket at the buzzer. I watched a lot of NBA basketball games at many different NBA stadiums, but I hope one day to see one in person. It is intense at the court with all the fans making noises, and even more exciting when I watch the games with my friends. I believe basketball can make life better.

  9. I’ve been wanting to tell the story of Carl for a while. I’ve had to shorten it for this context, which is unfortunate, but I need to get it out there. I wish I could tell it better. Some day I’ll write it all down the right way.

    The first time I met Carl he told me he had coded 5 times and that he was waiting to die. He lived in the apartment below me. I didn’t know what to say. After our introduction conversation, as I was moving stuff up from my car, he gave my boyfriend two small plastic shakes full of salt as a house warming present for me. A kind gesture from a stranger who I’d be living very close to. This was my first time sharing walls that weren’t in a dorm building.

    Carl was overweight and he had a stoma, so he was difficult to understand at times. He told me he had at one point weighed 500 pounds but was now back down to 250. Franklin congratulated him and Carl laughed and said that it still wasn’t good. I gave Carl my phone number in case he needed anything. I would sometimes get his mail for him. He had a rough time walking for the most part.

    He once called me and asked if Frank and I could help him set up his computer. We got it set up and he gave us a package of kale a friend made him buy that he was never going to eat. While we were there he told us that Obama was a good friend who was always asking his opinion on various topics. He showed us a contact in his phone that said “Obama” and that was proof enough for him. It definitely wasn’t the strangest thing he claimed, so we went with it. He called once asking for our opinions on the Middle East. That was all he said. I want your opinion on the Middle East. I told him I didn’t really have one, not wanting to say any blanket statements on such a large area. He asked me what he thinks we as a country should do. I told him I had no idea. He said that was a smart answer.

    I once went down to apologize to Carl because my friends were loud the night before. He told me not to worry about it but that it made him wonder how much Diane below him could hear. He told me she once confronted him on something she heard. She said, “I know your wife wasn’t in town, who did you have over?” and he said, “Don’t go into that darkness, Diane.”

    Other than him telling me he was once in the CIA, I think that’s my favorite thing he told me. I came home one day and saw a truck parked in his spot. I thought he had a visitor. His door was open, leaving the screen door visible through. His apartment was empty. Up until a few weeks prior he had called me every single day. He asked me for cash once to get his medicine and I told him I didn’t have any on me, which was true, and I think he must have felt weird about it because he didn’t call me much after. And then I saw that he was gone. I called my mom to find out if she had heard anything about what happened to him. He had to be moved to a live in care facility, so while it might not have been what he wanted necessarily, he wasn’t dead yet.

    He texted me a while later, thanking me for my friendship. I told him I missed his presence. My new neighbor invited himself up to one of my parties and sat on my couch and watched a football game while I hid in my kitchen. I miss Carl. But I wish I missed him more than I do. I wish I wanted to reach out to him more. I think it’s because I don’t have neighborly ideals engrained in me. Growing up I lived in a gated community in a gated house. My father is the most private man I will ever know and would question my mother when she would chat with the neighbors. Carl gave me stationary and I baked him cupcakes. He gave me brownies that I’m pretty sure had bits of the packaging in them but I never said anything other than that they were delicious. He told me he wanted to cook for me but that never happened. I don’t really believe that I’m a good neighbor. But I believe that I did the best I could with Carl. I hope he’s doing okay.

    1. I miss carl too. Great guy. New guy not as great.

  10. I believe that no artist, nor work of art should be held in higher esteem than any other. I am not saying that the painstaking efforts of artists should go unnoticed, as many individuals have made great strides in their respective fields since the dawn of mankind, but to say that their work is more significant than a child’s sketch of a dinosaur is harmful to our collective understanding of art, in that it poses the question “Why bother doing anything?” I believe it is damaging for us to hold the artists of the past and present in such high esteem, in that it makes expression seem like some giant, impossible contest of importance. When I went to New York in March of 2014, I saw numerous priceless works of art. Van Gogh, Dali, Warhol, Klimt... All of these artists are considered godlike in the art world, as their works are valued at millions of dollars. Thinking about all the great artists of the past and the "importance" of their work is very discouraging to a young aspiring creator because it makes them feel like they could never live up to the standards set by art history, or that they could never be as important as their heroes. This phenomena obviously applies to all areas of popular culture, like sports or acting or music. I understand that not everyone feels this discouragement, but it is ridiculous to say that we as a society do not create tremendous pedestals for our idols, and in doing so we cast a great shadow that engulfs us all. I believe we need to reestablish the notion that everything we do is important, and that our creative aspirations should not be suppressed by a fear of being unworthy. I am not saying we should forget our past and ignore the progress made by humanity, but that we need to keep it all in perspective. I believe we need to remember that our actions are every bit as important as anyone else’s have ever been, and that anything we do matters.

    1. I like this idea of keeping everything in perspective and not holding anything to some higher esteem. I wonder if you as an artist have a different perspective that other artists. I have it in my head that art is supposed to be self reflective and uniquely your own expression. I know that in many other fields seperate from art everything tends to be hierarchical, there are steps you have to take to become better than others because you are told to aspire to meet certain criteria. I can't really remember many well known artists including musicians critiquing their peers in the moment of their creative peaks, it predominantly comes from critics or teachers. I wonder if the idea of having to constantly live up to other people expectations and people from other fields critiquing and defining what is "good," or "meaningful art," is only categorizing art to make it easier to consume and be monetized for the masses only reintegrating into fields that arent intrinsically supposed to be about self expression. I'm not in a strong position to critique art, im not an artists and I haven't studied art either, but I do think about what Im interested in and why. It's nice to see from someone who is a practicing artist their perspective on how we categorize art and its affect on young artists. How much potential is left untapped because of our phenomena of defining what is important and worthy?

  11. I get in the car, squeeze my butt over on the seat. Lock the doors, click the parking break down. I can see all my mirrors, they can see me. Mist on the car windshield, swiped away. This is calm for me. I slide my key in, metal on metal, and here the harsh hum of the car turning on. I slowly release the park, three muted clicks in the gears, and hear the crunch of my tires roll over the cement and I see things fly before my eyes. I’m moving, but my body feels at home. My thoughts are, at the same time, distracted and encouraged by the process of pressing on the gas, the break, clicking my signal on stopping and waiting before starting and going again. It’s a process that I can make sense of, that I feel safe in. I can take care of myself in here. I can take care of others in here. I can get someone someplace they need to be with less exhaustion then they may need. This is my vessel for change. I can bring people places, I can get things where they are needed. I can be the in between. I can literally control my path, where I am going and what I get to see. I have the opportunity to be exposed to the world from a metal can, where I can just watch or I can start to interact. I believe in driving.

  12. Disclaimer: This I Believe uses the "b" word

    I believe in being selective in how much you complain. Unfortunately, that doesn’t roll off the tongue very well and it takes even longer to explain how I came to this conclusion.
    I don’t know if you knew this but despite the negative implication you might have about complaining, it actually has some social and emotional health benefits. For example, complaining improves your mood and self-esteem. It’s cathartic and it relieves tension. Bottom line, bitching feels good because it is like a valve all humans have to release built up pressure from anger and frustration.
    Not to brag but I’m pretty good at bitching. I know what I’m talking about here. I’m good at bitching alone. I’m good at bitching in groups. I bitch at or with friends and family at least weekly. I also listen to a lot of bitching. It’s obvious I am not the only person who does. In fact when I complain with other people, it seems like we, all parties involved in the complaining, get along a little more as a result. You may also not know that, the very action of complaining with another person, is proven to improve your relationship with them because you form a loose bond over your shared experience. If you think about it, complaining is sharing your personal feelings with another person, which is the basis for good communication, which also is the basis of a good relationship. So if you boil it down, whining is just a roundabout way of opening up to someone you want to be closer to.
    Don’t get me wrong, bitching isn’t always the healthiest form of releasing pressure or getting to know people. Bitching has some inherent problems and obvious limitations. Complaining can be polarizing. It can get repetitive or frustrating if you overuse the tool. I also know it makes me mad when someone seems to only complain when we talk. I start to wonder if they are ever going to do anything to fix their problems or if they even want to. The truth is complaining gets really old after a while, if you agree with it at first.
    I had this very thought today when a friend of mine complained about how unfair some situation was, for the fifteen millionth time. We had had this conversation with her in I don’t how many different iterations between today and last February. I was frankly ready to talk about literally anything else with her: our classes, Jello, the French Revolution. On the other hand, I also prepared to tell her to suck it up, that since she refused to take any of our suggestions; it was her problem, not ours.

    1. I’m not sure if speaking up would have helped much. I doubt it. Some people just feel the need to complain because they feel sorry for themselves or they love the drama. Maybe they are too scared or lazy to make a change so they whine to deal with it instead. I know that much from personal experience.
      My encounter today, with the aforementioned friend, has really got me thinking how much people complain. I was actually just complaining myself. I really wish people were a little more aware how much they complain to those around them. At best, bitching to an acquaintance makes you feel better and closer to them. They might even offer some solutions to your problem you had yet to think of. At worst, you never learn from the exercise and end up annoying someone you really care about, who might complain about you to someone else. And suddenly you have passed the problems you can’t fix yourself, onto some innocent third party. It’s that lovely.
      In many ways, complaining, bitching, whining, whatever you want to call it, is a lot like listening to your favorite song. Listening to it, releases endorphins and makes you feel better. Of course, not everyone will like your favorite song but those who do, will jam along with you until they get sick of it. At some point, you will even get sick of it. If you listen to it too much it gets very boring or annoying very quickly but if you listen moderation, it will keep enjoying it for a long time.
      For me, a music fan, I see it this way, never let your complaining be the song on repeat on the radio, that everyone is sick of hearing because it was the hit of summer 2015. Be a little picky about when you play your song. It will have more impact when you actually do. Because, unlike a song, bitching about your problems all the time will do more than irritate your friends when you play it in the car. It will actually drive people away. And that’s why I believe in “selective bitching”.

  13. I believe in roommates, specifically seven. That’s right I live with seven other girls. My family and friends were shocked when I told them how many girls I lived with and asked me if I was crazy. I even asked myself that at first, but somehow it works. Maybe the reason it works is because we are all so busy we barely see each other, and that is why I cherished my roommates this weekend. We were all forced to spend time together since we were snowed in, and it made me realize how great it really is to live with seven other girls. When I woke up on Friday, I ran to my living room knowing my roommates would be up before me, enjoying the snow. Five of them were up and watching a movie, appreciating their snow day by sipping coffee and making breakfast. We all got ready and went outside to take in the snow,
    and entertain one another while shoveling the driveway. Only for it to be covered back up in an hour. We all played in the snow, went sledding, played card games, and just goofed around. That night, we all sat around the living room just enjoying each other’s company and laughing at each others stories.
    Don’t get me wrong, that’s not how we always get along. I do get frustrated with their messes or waking me up super early on the weekends. However, I wouldn’t trade living with them for the world. As I look back on the weekend, I really do cherish being able to spend quality time with seven people that are some of the closest friends I’ve made at Transy. Times like these are limited. In several months we will be graduating and moving out of our house. We will be going our separate ways, but I will always remember the “snowapocalypse” with my roommates’ my senior year of college, and I will tell stories to my grandchildren about living in “the cottage.”

  14. I believe in the saying “you are what you eat.” As an exercise science major and someone who loves to research nutrition I have slowly begun to believe the validity behind this statement. Growing up my mom was and still is a large supporter of healthy eating habits. As a child she would fix me healthy meals and I generally liked them. However growing up all of my friends parents were allowing them to bring lunchables daily to school and eat fast food when they pleased. Since this was not the case in my family I was sometimes embarrassed by my school lunches and was always so excited when I would be over at a friend’s house and allowed to eat something unhealthy for me. My parents were also divorced in elementary school. My dad was not very health conscious therefore every other weekend when I was as at his house I was allowed to eat whatever I wanted. At the time my mom never knew, but if she had found that out she would not have been very happy. Once I entered high school and began to eat out with friends I was not very conscious of what I ate since it was the first time I had a free reign with my meals. Then entering college I became very aware of how damaging unhealthy eating can be for your body. Looking back on my childhood, even though at times I wanted to be like everyone else and eat fast food, I am so thankful my mom educated me on a healthy lifestyle. Although today I do not always eat a completely whole meal that is free of something fried or processed, I am consciously aware of what processed foods can do to the human body. Therefore I believe how important it is to live a healthy lifestyle, not only with exercising but fueling the body with the proper nutrients as well.

  15. This I Believe Essay #2

    After a two year hiatus, I have found myself once again jotting down entries into a small pocket sized handbook. I do not know what got me interested in the first place but I remember that I started journaling my sophomore year of high school. Actually, I do recall an angsty Devin upset over his first romantic break-up and finding solace in a Moleskine notebook. The amount of times I wrote ‘fuck in them would probably make Quentin Tarantino blush. We don’t talk about my high school journals...I have actually hidden them from myself at home for better or worse ,mostly better.
    High school repression aside, I really enjoy the journal’s ability to give you a tangible record of the present moment in the past since unlike memory, the journal does not forget what you wrote when you put it on paper. What boggles me though is how journals make me realize how much I know myself yet how lost I am of myself at the same time. There are entries from 2013 the summer before entering Transylvania that I still relate to yet I read an entry I wrote a week ago and am just baffled at how much I disagree with what I, myself said to myself. I guess this reinforces the mantra to ‘think only in the present’ since the future has yet to happen and the past you can be as similar or radically different in the manner of days. In fairness though, I have admittedly been treading ill winds recently in life which, in return, has brought me back to journaling. Still though, it is hard to see the recesses of my mind materialize and realize that I, in small time frame, once felt and agreed with what I wrote back then. With this being said, I believe in journals and how they allow one to remember who they are yet also realize that they don’t know themself at the same

    1. I wish I journaled more, you've inspired me to get back into it. I too hate looking back on my past journals, but there is something nice about looking back at your past and ideally seeing some sort of progression. In times full of stress like now I'm sure journaling becomes a great way to channel negative energy or positive.

  16. I believe in layering clothing. I believe that my thin frame calls for this layering, generally something might fit a tad big, so lets layer and make it look great. My bones are covered by muscle and tendons, I don’t think there is much fat. Actually there is seven percent body fat, I measured it a few days ago, supposedly it’s pretty good, so therefore I get cold easily. Thin frame and its cold, I get colder more quickly, there’s a call for a few layers of clothes, a t-shirt, button up, a sweater put them together its some classy layering. Matching, it’s kind of simple for those who are not colorblind, or have the ability to see, and at times have the means to make their own wardrobe. Matching basics: don’t mix multiple saturated bright colors, neon colors with non-neon colors probably doesn’t look great. An earthy green with a maroon, it’s pretty simple; pair that with navy or just some khaki pants. And underneath really any type of shirt will do. But most importantly let you shine through, it seems cheesy but I find that the more I layer the more I can show off my sense of style or lack of style, since it is up to me I’ll say I have style. I believe in layering and its comfort and ideally being comfortable with everything I put on.

  17. There’s a feeling, or rather a moment in philosophy where a thinker finds themselves at an impasse—In this moment all previous thoughts are contradicted and contested by newly assented knowledge. This phenomenon is attributed to discourse of the socratic method, and the name to this process is aporia. This puzzle of discerning what is true confines a person to a deep fog in which they must distinguish what is true. It’s a damning sensation to be confronted with the feeling that most likely everything a person had established as their paradigm of the world can be challenged in a matter of moments. Seriously studying philosophy often induces these moments of aporia, where no feasible path to truth remains possible without first forsaking what one had previously assented to as truth.
    Throughout my short twenty-two rotations around the sun, I’ve been entrenched in this particular fog of confusion plenty of times. Sometimes the fog seems more like mist—only slightly obstructing the view I had previously held. Other times the fog was so deep it felt more like a dark abyss situated within an arduously complex labyrinth demanding the utmost best of my human faculties of reason and logic. I try to avoid willfully emerging myself in that sort of puzzle. I’ve found it to be rewarding to solve such a puzzle, but I seldom feel certain that I’ve solve these puzzles. It’s honestly a terrible way to live; to continually fixate one’s path in life through the most tedious explorations of truth; to chase the essence of some idea with the limited tools of human reason—especially considering the limitations to my own resources of knowledge and reasoning. Not to mention the implications of obtaining something from this logical dance in metaphysical fog. It can be burdening at best. Nonetheless, I feel that I couldn’t possibly exist in this world authentically without living through this journey to truth. Even simple subjective truths become a campaign when viewing life from this vantage point. The certainty thinking through my actions and beliefs provides some sort of solace in this chaotic experience—even when that certainty may only be a provisional step towards my next thought, I profoundly value what I find. I believe in the journey to truth because it provides me with more gratitude in what I find meaningful.

  18. Last summer I attended my first poetry reading in Bulgaria. While struggling to translate “poetry reading” for my non-English-speaking parents, I realized I had never been to a poetry reading before I came to America.

    Last summer my American husband, two American children, and I took an hour-long bus-ride to Bourgas, the home town of a fellow expatriate, where she had organized a poetry reading. She had also committed two American poets to reading and advertised the event as a bilingual affair. I was excited to attend a bilingual poetry reading in my home country, one of the few events my non-Bulgarian-speaking children could participate in.

    Things that happened at the poetry reading in Bourgas:

    Two men behind me spoke openly with each other every time someone was speaking in English. English speakers commanded none of their attention or respect.

    Audience members asked questions throughout the reading. One woman requested love poetry. No poet had mentioned love until this point.

    After an American poet read a few of his love poems, a young woman in the audience told him she wanted to translate his beautiful words. She then invited him to lunch.

    An older woman wrapped in a black shawl played piano between some of the poems. The two men behind me talked during the piano interludes as well. Their voices rose, competing with the music.

    When a cell phone rang, the owner took the call without leaving his seat. It was about a broken pipe.

    Some questions asked of the visiting poets were more direct than others. One woman kept demanding the name of their favorite Bulgarian poet. The two American poets were visibly confused.

    Many pictures were taken during the reading. Small cameras and unsilenced iPhones made frequent noises: click-click-click, an accompaniment more audible than the piano music.

    We left before the reading was over. We left when the reading switched mostly to Bulgarian, a language my children don’t understand.

    I believe Bulgarian poetry readings are similar to Shakespeare’s plays on the nights they were first performed: a rowdy crowd enjoying words, peanuts, and occasional tussles.

  19. I believe in thinking games.

    When I was little, I played all kinds of these, and some still remain today. It’s difficult to give their general criteria…but one important thing is, I never came up with them on purpose. They just happened as a result of thinking a certain thing, or completing a certain action, and became things I thought about repeatedly in those situations. They also always helped me deal with some inability to accept something or unease. A bit weird and vague, but…some examples:

    1.) The Cloud Game
    Every time I woke up, I would have to exchange my “breathing cloud” for a new one. I imagined that our bodies used a small cloud-puff housed in our throats to filter our air and help us breathe cleanly. When that cloud got used up and yellowed after a day (sometimes faster), I would switch it out with a fresh one from my imaginary, generative jar of cloud puffs. I would actually perform the action of reaching into my mouth and pretending to pick out the cloud and replace a different one after opening the jar. The game resulted from the gross feeling I got in my throat when it didn’t feel “clean” or “fresh” (like how throats usually feel in the morning).

    1.a) The Breathing Game
    Only breathe when you’re looking at something you like/that is pleasant. It would really distress me to breathe if I was looking at something I thought was disgusting or unpleasant, like I was taking some part of that inside myself, breathing it into my body, if I did.

    2.) The Microwave Game
    You MUST stop the microwave right when it gets to 1 second left, but only after counting down from 5 seconds in a particular way… At 5 seconds you would count “5-4-3-2-1” all in the expanse of 1 second…then repeat for each second after until you got to 2, where you would have to say “stop-stop” at the end or none of it counted and you “lost”. The only thing I remember in terms of this game’s origin is, there was an episode of Samurai Jack about metal-eaters who were themselves made of metal and eventually they began eating each other and it made me very uncomfortable. So I came up with a game that created a sense of discomfort and urgency, while at the same time offering a way to “win” that situation.

    3.) The Table-Scratch Game
    This was my favorite game because it spawned the most interesting feeling I’ve ever had. It involved imagining the top of a brown table where etch-a-sketch type markings would increasingly cover the surface. These extremely thin markings would keep filling up the surface until my mind “jolted” and made me stop thinking about it because it was too complicated to keep imagining. This actually gave me a physical feeling of pain in my head, and it still happens today when I try to imagine the infinite expanse of the universe. Or my own death. Imagining unimaginable things…it’s a really crazy feeling when you try to do it.

    Even though these sound silly, I think they were a really vital part of my ability to keep living my life and deal with bad feelings. I believe I would be doing a little bit better if some news ones appeared...