If you celebrated Christmas (or even if you didn’t), what gift would you give back? What would you ask for in return? Be as honest as possible. For example, I would love to give back that pair of pajamas I know my grandmother has re-gifted, but, in return, I would ask that she know I don’t need presents at all feel how much she loves and respects me.
Listen to your favorite song three times on repeat. Immediately after the third time, write whatever comes to mind. Write for five minutes and see where you end up. (I played Tracy Chapman’s Fast Car three times and ended up thoroughly depressed.) Ultimately, let the music completely seep in and write what you feel when it stops.
Preface: This post is a little weird because it’s literally all in my head (or exactly what I was thinking/ feeling that day).
This is such a struggle. I walk up the marble steps and in through gold trimmed doors. Wait. First, the metal detectors. First time? Shoes off. Jewelry off. Coat off. Sweater off. Underwear off—at least that’s where I felt the final destination might be. Step to the lady security guard. She gets to feel me up for a mini bomb or gun that I don’t have. I mean, I guess they always have to check.; It is the Rayburn Congressional office building.
Down the tomb-like hall—which literally looks like every other hallway. Take the elevator to 4th floor. Palms sweaty. Check my phone three times to find the time hasn’t changed. Look at the man in his nice suit as he presses the 2nd floor button. I wonder if he’s a Congressman? Oh god. I really have to pee. Walk down another tomb-like hallway. I wonder if I look like I’m in high school. I think I look old for my age, but I feel as if I have a stamp marked on my forehead that screams: “this one is new.”
Walk through the massive office doors as tall as the ceiling. The blue carpet is nice; almost makes the office feel warm (instead of an arctic tundra like the hall). A nice young lady asks me if I’m the new intern. I smile and pray three times that my voice doesn’t shake or crack when I speak. Lost cause. My vocal cords are all over the place. She leads me to a desk. Phone. Computer. Copy of the New York Times.
I’m asked to go over new bills and legislation for inconsistencies—after I finish sorting the mail. (Sorry constituents; your letters may have went in the trash.) Nothing makes sense. It’s all an inconsistency. The words are too big and the sentences a little too complex. I avoid the legal section like the plague. After seeing the first page, I save it for last. My brain hurts. After stalling in the photo section of the NYT, viewing every slide show from fashion to exotic homes, I go back to the legal section. I only make it four lines before giving up again. I instead start a list of all the other places I’d like to be—like on vacation, my bed, the coffee shop down the street. Maybe even the bathroom.
I never finish the legal sections of the legislation. I slip it back on my supervisor’s desk with random scribbles and question marks. I just can’t finish it. I even manage to take a 20 minute nap after completing my list. I feel like the laziest person ever, but honestly, I am never going to make it through that thing without a greater sense of willpower, caffeine (or interest in the material) than I currently possess. Again, lost cause. Back to the Times. Maybe I’ll just take a long lunch. They won’t miss me. Wait. I’m a horrible intern. Maybe I’ll ask to pre-read more of the Congressman’s mail. Yeah, I’ll do that; some constituent author just sent an advanced copy of his book. It looks terrible.
I still didn’t see the evidence.
I know it was just Thanksgiving and a ridiculous amount of people have asked you what you’re thankful for, but here’s a little bit of a different thank you list. Write a list from a different individual’s perspective. What would your neighbor be thankful for? What would your mother or father be thankful for? What would your 5 year old cousin be thankful for? Would you make it to their “thankful-for” list? You’re not the only one who wonders if your grandma is truly thankful when you come to stay with her (even when you blast the top 40 hits in her living room at 2 am). Like always, have fun!
I just thought up a few questions to ask my roommate who’s an environmental science major. I wanted to confirm my suspicion that we’re all a little more creative than we think (hence we can all be creative writers in some aspect). So, ask yourself or another individual a series of questions. Use the answers in a new way—maybe in a poem, short story, or drawing of some kind. Honestly, I had a ridiculously fun time with this, and I hope you will too.
My strange interview and result piece:
1. What do you think of when I say these words?
photo– her and her sister
upside down– Spiderman
deep– earth’s mantle
2. If you could be one thing for the rest of your life what would it be? A grocer at a consciously produced food market or owner of a coffee shop
3. Favorite warm drink? Chai tea
4. Favorite word? Papillon (butterfly)
5. Most valuable thing you own? Memories
6. Would you travel back in time, stay in the present, or go to the future? Why? Stay in the present because she likes her current life.
7. Favorite place in the world? Bryne, Norway: ancestor’s family home
8. Pen or pencil? Pencil, because she can always erase her mistakes.
9. Who is one person you would bring back from the dead? No one. She believes that when someone dies it’s their time to go and would be wrong to bring them back.
10. How many times have you been in love? Twice
We stand in solos, threes and twos, raising our bold red cups to an upside down Spiderman. Our bodies warm as we try not to fall in love. Try not to fall in love twice. Gray conversations leave invisible snow on the floor as our bodies, warm bodies, moist bodies, sway with conceptualized music and turn bright white memories into something like Chai tea.
We just wanted to own a coffee shop and have conversations where we, dressed in our graphic t-shirts and bean caps, could be deep, maybe even like the earth’s mantle, or our memories. We could leaf through photos of mothers, sisters, brothers and the dead. They should stay dead; we would not bring them back—its their time.
Instead, we work like teaching assistants trying to swim in our present. Feeling like papillion with holes in the wings. We are the new generation—the ones to fix the world’s problems. But we’ve been given pens and fonts, not pencils with erasers for our mistakes.
The slow burn of our bodies through gray is all that we can do. It’s all we can ask for without our dreams. Without erasers.
This list may seem a little strange, but it happens to be my Christmas list—when I was eight years old. Now that I come back to it, like the story of my imaginary newspaper, I believe this is more evidence indicating my inherent passion for writing. As most passions go, I’ve sometimes suppressed, ignored and even fought them, but little instances like this list let me know that I’ve been neglecting the most honest part of myself for a very long time. Now it’s time to give myself a chance to creatively and continuously explore.
8 -year -old Ashieda’s Christmas List:
1. Bratz Dolls:
Oh come on, there was some point where every child wanted a doll of some kind. The trend shamelessly focused on dolls with large heads and even larger lips. One doll’s outfit even included various cow-print designs with bright blue leather boots. I was eight and the marketing was excellent.
3. Lisa Frank Stationary Kit:
There were so many colors—more pens and pencils than I knew what to do with. I loved it. I wanted to write in a different colored pen every day; therefore, I started to write everything from personal notes to my mother’s grocery list just for fun. I wrote my sisters letters to go in their lunches. I wrote to my Grandma who lived far away. I wrote to Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen (they were fine back then). But mostly I started writing to myself—hence the journal.
To go along with my plethora of writing utensils, I wanted something special to write them in. My own place to try out new words and tell everything to. My place to be sad about losing my best friend or be scared for my sick little sister. My place to be mad at my mother or vent about other eight-year-old, world-ending issues. My place.
5.Where The Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein:
As if the evidence couldn’t get any more ironic. I loved this book and kept checking it out of my school library until my parents finally bought me my own.
I believe on some minor level I understood—as much as an eight year old could—how cathartic writing (and poetry) could be for me, but I never knew it would persist into my passion. As my live history with writing indicates, I’ve only recently gotten better at reading the signs. If anything, I’ve mainly drifted further away from them.
And so, more evidence soon.
Write a wish list. It can be as concrete or figurative as you like. For example, I wrote about everything from a never ending supply of chocolate covered raisins to enduring health for my younger sister. This may be the only chance to ask for everything you want, so hold nothing back.
I’ve once or twice thrown around the phrase: “God, I hate people.” But can you imagine actually being afraid of people—like sweating profusely and needing to hide immediately no matter if it’s one person or 100? I mean, in the instances where someone takes too long at the cash register or ATM (because they just have to do one more transaction or just keeps forgetting to ask for a receipt) or someone who keeps mispronouncing your name for the 25th time and even the person talking or listening to obnoxious music too loud on the subway. We’ve all at least thought that we hated people—even if for just that moment. This could all just be a very public display of my pet peeves, but there are individuals who have very real fears regarding people and their capabilities. People with Anthropophobia in extreme cases may withdraw altogether, communicating with others only through letters and electronic media such as email or text messages.
This got me thinking whether individuals with this fear kept a journal or notebook of some sort. If they didn’t necessarily communicate outside of specific written means, does that individual save most of their thoughts for themselves? Could this journal basically serve as his/her words—if spoken aloud, if allowed into conversation? Why not? I can see this notebook being the key to whatever it is they ever wanted to say, a key to building relationships, a key to finally understanding someone who could be scared every other human being on the planet. This could also be my creative and hyperactive imagination running countless laps in my head trying to comprehend someone so different than myself or most other people for that matter. I wonder if individuals with Anthropophobia can write the most beautiful poetry in the world, focusing on intense emotions and observations most people don’t have the courage or energy to see? I wonder if they can create the best fiction stories, devising characters and settings different than those of our typical tropes.
In a sense my questions are stereotypes of these individuals and what they can do; but in another sense, these individuals can bring a great hope for the future of creative writing. I could find their work fascinating as much as I find their lifestyle. I’m not saying that these individuals are common, love to write and would write publicly, but if they did, I would be first in line to read it—if not for the story, but for the fresh voice in writing. To think I only learned about these individuals this morning; My friend mentioned her Uncle who listens to Greek choir music on repeat in order to deal with his fear of other humans. Really, Greek choir music on repeat; I wonder if he writes about it in a journal…
What 5 things would someone find in your trash can? This can be as literal or figurative as you want it to be.
Just something that woke me up this morning…it’s strange, but amazing.