The Daisies’ Lonely Yellow Tentacles

“You read and write and sing and experience, thinking that one day these things will build the character you admire to live as. You love and lose and bleed best you can, to the extreme, hoping that one day the world will read you like the poem you want to be.”
― Charlotte Eriksson

(I have been meaning to include this quote on a blog post for quite some time but have not been able to integrate it successfully. So, considering that this is the last one, please just enjoy this quote before you read about daisies and destruction).

In the spirit of pulling out all the stops for this final blog post, here are some titles that I wish I had used:

  1.  Writing To Fill A Void or Writing To Be Employed?
  2. Depression: The Bedbugs of The Heart
  3. Underwater Whistling Sounds Like Screaming

 

Okay, now done to the real business:

I’m holding a flower between my fingers right now and I don’t know what to do with it. It’s a daisy. Or perhaps it WAS a daisy. See, in the time it took me to write that last sentence (the one exclaiming “It’s a daisy.”) I have removed some of the yellow petals. I don’t know why I did it. All I know is that now, instead of looking like a delicate flower, the daisy, if you could still call it that, looks more like an octopus with five lonely yellow tentacles. I’m not sure if you could say that the daisy is less of a daisy now. If you believe that the identity of objects exists only in the nature of its composition, than by all means, this is still a daisy. However, if you are under the assumption that basic identity exists only in the outward appearance of an object, than perhaps this daisy is indeed an octopus with 5 lonely yellow tentacles.

I didn’t know where I was going with this when I started talking about the daisy, but I think I found my thoughts.

At the beginning of last year, 2016, I was the daisy. Living, cosy against the green stem, with the hopes of blooming. When I found out, as a sophomore, that I was to be in AP English Language and Composition next school year, I felt like a new land was blossoming right before my fingertips. The land was called writing and I had been travelling towards it with intention for some years. I felt as if this was my opportunity to truly develop as a writer (or into a flower if we are sticking with that metaphor).

Now, as I review my past thoughts on writing, I realize how very much I have truly changed.

“When I write, I feel like everything makes sense.”

I guess at one point I must have believed this because I wrote a past blog post about it. Now, as I reflect on the idea of “everything making sense,” I envy the girl that once thought that writing could do that. I envy the girl that felt like she could figure out everything as long as she had words to write and a surface to write upon.

Through taking AP Lang (our cutsey little abbreviation for the previously mentioned class), I have learned several things. Now, I know that when one says “learned”, we have become accustom to taking this to mean that they were taught. But, when I say “learned”, I mean that I was violently force-fed a bunch of information and skills and some of them managed to actually help. Although the force-feeding that occurred was due to AP Lang, I do not (under any circumstances) intend to blame this violent act on Ms. Magnuson. Nor do I really blame it on the course itself. You see, the information and skills that I “learned” could have been easily integrated into my mind were it not due to my stubborn and ornery attitude.

Being the impressionable 17 year- old that I am, I have always been told that I was a talented writer. Upon showing another my writing, they would most definitely respond with flattering comments about how the imagery was “so marvelous” or how they could really see “the waterfall of my depression” (p.s.- I am not kidding. Someone actually told me that). So naturally, when I began the course, I felt pretty confident about my writing abilities. Ha. Hahahahahahahaha.

As you can venture due to my outburst of cynical laughter, I was wrong. Dead-flat-slap your mother in the face- wrong. The weekly essays that we wrote in class gave me number grades based on my expressed ability to use language and rhetorical devices (if you don’t know what a rhetorical device is, look it up. You are in for a real treat). And, though it was out of nine, I never got higher than a seven. This came as a real hit to my confidence. And, as the metaphor continues, I, the pedal-adorned daisy, began to lose my embellishments.

But, if we take a gander at the first paragraph of this blog post (not that I expect you to, given the absurd length that it has become), you would remember about the daisy. that destroyed “daisy” that is now laying, as if defeated by a mortar and pestle, on my desk is in fact still a daisy. It still has its stem, though petals are lacking and the pollen has been reduced to mostly sepal, and if the stem were the indication as to whether an object is a flower or not, than perhaps the daisy is, in fact, still a daisy.

Follow up question: Am I still, after months of changing and evolving, still a daisy? Am I still the writer that I once believed myself to be?

No, I am not. However, since we all know that changing is a key part of life (and if you don’t know that, than please just pretend for both of our sake), and perhaps I can still be some kind of writer without having to be the exact kind that I once was. Before I took AP LANG, my writing was vague and full of superfluous abstractions. And, while writing like this does bring about eloquence, abstractions in writing often take away the key point that one writes at all: to say something. It is through AP LANG that I have come to realize that writing should be both eloquent and meaningful. After all, you cannot tell a story without a plot. So, perhaps I am not the same writer that I was last year. But, if I am not, this isn’t a bad thing. Like the daisy, I have changed. But who says that a daisy is better than an octopus with 5 lonely yellow tentacles?

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Egocentric Interactions

“Tomorrow in class, we will be having a debate.” Ah, the dreaded words drag across the classroom and cause a catastrophic mixture of obscure resposes.
“Yes!” My friend declares
“It’s about time,” another remarks.
It seems like that whole room is echoing their opinions against the walls and the debate hasn’t even started. “Finally,” they cry, “I get the chance to express MY opinions and have everyone Listen!”
Are they listening? Is anyone listening? You’d like to believe that everyone is, right?
Students are not capable of having an intellectual debate because of the narcissism that causes us all to value our opinions above those of others. Because of this, we are no longer listening for the purpose of listening. We are listening for the purpose of response. 

Now, you may be asking, why should I care? Why should I be listening to you broadcasting your opinions? Aren’t you being hypocritical because you’re telling me to listen to you and therefore, you are actually the egocentric one here?

In response to this barrage of questions, I ask, why are you asking me questions in the middle of my speech? Isn’t this further proving my point? Can’t you just listen without having to pick apart my argument?

However, if I was to privilege  this stream of questions, I would say……………………………………….. (p.s. I did all those ellipses just for kicks so don’t slam me for that).

Well…yes. If you were to share with these hypothetical thoughts, you would be correct.

But here’s a not-so-secret secret.

Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING,

 

Is subjective.

So none of it matters at all.

I’m just being as egocentric as I’m accusing you of being.

So peace out suckers.

Fact or Fiction, Wrong or Right, Let’s All Have Fun Instead of Having This Fight.

What if we lived in a world where facts were paramount?
there is only right or wrong, Good or Bad. Black or white.
But we have more than black and white, wrong or right.
We have grey areas. And red. And yellow and blue and orange.
A rainbow cannot be reasoned with precisely how you wish.
If facts were the world, if we were all meant to be animals composed merely of reason minus rhyme,
what a boring world that would be.

Music is a language,
Open to interpretation.
While facts can dance along,
they will never compose the song.
For a song is more than yes or no,
green or red,
stay or go.
It’s sometimes, maybe,
yellow and blue,
stay for AWHILE,
but not after two.

The Cheetah runs fast,
but the mind can too.
let’s use facts as reason, experience, and truth,
but never let the mind become merely aloof.
Facts produce laziness,
allowing the mind to roam.
Neglecting imagination,
defining house as home.

My hair is blonde,
this much is true.
My eyes are brown,
pretty obvious too.
But look a bit closer and maybe you’ll see,
that my brown eyes give way to splashes of green.
Knowing facts is okay, and it helps you to know
why the freight train sounds or white is the snow.
But facts can lead to a kind of half truth;
the one that is known,
and the one that isn’t proof.

So stop thinking that a world of fact is always right,
when sometimes it’s wrong,
or half- wrong
or half-right.

Too Much Of A Good Thing

“Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing.”-William Dudley

In third grade, a family friend came to stay at our house for a week. And, since my bed is the biggest of my siblings, he stayed in my room. On the day that he left, he gave me a massive bag of candy corn(like 5 pounds of the stuff). I, being the “lack of self control” child that I was, decided that it would be wonderful to eat all of the candy corn in one sitting. Not only did I gain five pounds after that, but I was sick for at least 4 days. Candy corn is great; it tastes sweet and it looks beautiful with all its bright colors. However, when you eat too much, you no longer enjoy the sweetness or see the beautiful bright colors. You just get sick. In the same way that too much candy corn can ruin my body and health, too much technology can ruin society.

By “ruin” I mean that it no longer becomes sweet or beautiful. Candy corn, in small tastes, can brighten a day. It can remind you that there are good things in the world. But when you gorge on it, you no longer appreciate the flavor or the color; you just feel sick. In the same way, technology can be a wonderful tool that serves to effectively manage your time or allow for a bit of distraction to unwind after a long day. However, if one spends too much time using technology, they begin to rely on it and it takes away from other aspects of their lives.

When I was in 8th grade, I went to the beach with my family. My brother, who was in 11th grade, had a big project due the next week that he had been putting off. Because of that, he had no choice but to work on it at the beach. His procrastination arose from the fact that he knew that he would always have the technology and resources to work on it, which allowed him to slack off and spend more time watching tv instead of doing his project.

Years later, when I ask him about some of the regrets he has, he tells me that he regrets that he didn’t spend more time with his family when he had the chance. I would not say that the only thing to blame in this case is technology, but a part of it definitely is. if he had spent less time online and playing video games, perhaps he would have spent more time with his little sister. And now that he is miles away, he realizes this. Technology “ruined” his time in the same way that candy corn “ruined” my appetite at 10. Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing no matter what it is.

Cultivating Creative Communities

Dearest Rosslyn Academy,
I am writing to you to express my deep appreciation to you in regards to the wonderful fine art department that is present at the school. Having classes that I can use to express my creativity gives me an outlet that I know most students at most schools don’t get to the same extent. With the hopes of continuing that, I have an idea that I would love to see put into action. Perhaps Rosslyn would benefit from having a class that was specifically designated as being an environment in which students can express their creative abilities in whatever way they feel so inclined.

Creativity, in the sense of the word that I mean, is defined as an act that uses imaginative efforts in order to produce an original work, especially artistic in nature. This class would take the form of an open space in which the participating students would have given time to write, draw, illustrate, design, excreta. In order to make this a useful space, all homework during this period of the day should be banned in order to force the students to step away from required work and to cause them to think freely and about whatever they choose.

It should be recognized that not every student (perhaps not even the majority) are artistically inclined. This should be respected as not all creativity involves artistic talent or motivations. As long as the student is innovating something original and brought about by pure imagination, it doesn’t matter what creative work they are engaging in; the student could be doing anything from writing a play to designing a robot.

Since technology is such a crucial part of the learning environment of this day and age, it should be noticed that there should be computers set up in the space. However, there should be a rule that discourages students from using their own devices in the creative classroom as they can go from being used as a source of inspiration to a method of creative distraction that hinders the imagination of the individual more than it encourages them.

I believe that through creating this environment, the students attending our school will increase in their abilities to think creatively and originally and they will be able to engage in a structured time space that is away from the school curriculum and the immediate pressures of homework. Through creating this outlet for students, our fine arts program will reach more students and further inspire this generation of great thinkers.

With given thought, Claya Davis

Negative Space is Not Always Negative

I have become quite intrigued, through many serendipitous adventures across the internet, with the idea of paring down the material processions in our lives- ridding our lives of the superfluous and embracing only what we truly need- why then, is minimalism-the idea of living in extreme sparseness and simplicity- important? Minimalism is important because it enforces us with the belief that possessions are easy to discard of, while friends and loved ones are irreplaceable.

In an article entitled ‘How To Embrace Minimalism and Appreciate What’s Important’, Peter Economy, a notable writer on the topic of sparse living states that “We love things because of the stories behind them, the people who gave them to us, and the memories we created in their use. If we love something, we do not actually love the thing itself; we love the way it became special to us” (Economy, Peter). Therefore, it is important to realize the distinction between our sentimentalizes that we tie to objects and the object itself. We do not need the objects, though we don’t have to get rid of all our sentimentally-tied momentous in order to live sparsely.

In order to embrace minimalism, it is not necessary to get rid of everything. In a documentary that is on Netflix, Ryan Nicodemus, a die-hard minimalist, and author on the subject tells the viewers the extent of minimalism: “The point is that minimalism is a tool to help you achieve freedom. Freedom from fear, freedom from worry, freedom from overwhelming, freedom from guilt, freedom from depression, freedom from enslavement. Freedom. Real freedom (Nicodemus, Ryan).” There is a freedom in the minimalist lifestyle that is unheard of whilst engrossed a life full of ‘things’.

I am not a minimalist- Not truly anyway- and though I strive to be one day, I realize the growing challenge of this lifestyle in a world that encourages copious purchasing and promotes dissatisfaction in previous purchases. However difficult it is, I feel that the benefits outweigh the loss; through living a minimalist lifestyle, or even entertaining the idea, one can discover how full of things their life really is and how little those things add to the quality of their life. Although I am currently not a minimalist, in merely researching and exposing my beliefs to this radical idea, I have felt a change in my mind; Instead of purchasing that new pair of shoes, I reach deep into my shrinking closet.

In the words of Joshua Millburn, an author that limits himself to 36 material possessions, he values minimalism so highly because: “[He’d] been running in one direction as fast as [he] could chasing this abstract thing called happiness, but [he’d] been running the wrong way. [He] was sprinting east looking for a sunset, when all [he] really had to do was turn around and walk—not run, just walk—in the other direction” (Millburn, Joshua). In order to find true happiness, we need to stop chasing that elusive sunset and start walking in the other direction with the ones we love.

Sources:
Economy, Peter. “How to Embrace Minimalism and Appreciate What’s Really Important.” Inc.com. Inc., 15 Jan. 2016. Web. 09 Apr. 2017. .

Millborn, Joshua F., and Ryan Nicodemus. “The Minimalists.” The Minimalists. Bluehost, n.d. Web. 09 Apr. 2017. .
Copy & paste citation What are n.p. & n.d

Unboxing Sylvia Plath

If Sylvia were an animal, she would be a horse.
-Not only did she have a horse growing up that appears as the star in one of her most popular poems, Ariel, but she, like a horse, can be both tamed and untamed. Her writing reflects this freedom of expression while still adhering to the rules of poetry and grammar.

If Sylvia was a book, she would be The Joy of Cooking.
-It is documented in several places that Plath was a huge fan of food. Not only eating it, but making it. She has a special connection to this book in particular and, in a time when she had no books, she claimed that it was the only book that she really missed.

If Sylvia was a country, she would be France.
-In letters that she wrote to her mother while traveling in France, Plath relays her love for Nice and the atmosphere of Europe in general. She was quoted asking, “how can I relay my love for [this] country?”

If Sylvia was a beach activity, she would be sunbathing.
-“Lying on my stomach on the flat warm rock, I let my arm hang over the side, and my hand caressed the rounded contours of the sun-hot stone, and felt the smooth undulations of it. Such a heat the rock had, such a rugged and comfortable warmth, that I felt it could be a human body. Burning through the material of my bathing suit, the great heat radiated through my body…”

If Sylvia was a food, she would be a souffle.
-If a souffle is taken out of the oven too soon or is exposed to loud noises, it will shrink into itself. Plath is like the Souffle. After her father died when she was 8, she made peace with his passing by consuming her time through writing about her feeling; by turning inward because she was exposed to grief.

If Sylvia was a color, she would be red.
-In her last few months of life, Plath uses the color 22 times in her poetry. She was fascinated by both the hue of the color and the connotations that the color had. Like the color red, Plath has affection, malice, and passion.

If Sylvia were a celebrity, she would be Marilyn Monroe.
-“Marilyn Monroe appeared to me last night in a dream as a kind of fairy godmother. An occasion of ‘chatting’ with audience much as the occasion with Eliot will turn out, I suppose. I spoke, almost in tears, of how much she and Arthur Miller meant to us, although they could, of course, not know us at all. She gave me an expert manicure. I had not washed my hair, and asked her about hairdressers, saying no matter where I went, they always imposed a horrid cut on me. She invited me to visit during the Christmas holidays, promising a new, flowering life.”

If Sylvia was a board game, she would be a Ouija Board.
-Although this may sound creepy, Plath was fascinated by the idea of contacting spirits. Ted Hughes, her husband recalls the nights when she would take out the Ouija board and attempt to contact spirits. Plath also wanted to make contact with others through her writing; as though trying to show herself that she is not completely different.

If Sylvia was a lazy activity, she would be a hot bath.
-“There must be quite a few things a hot bath won’t cure, but I don’t know many of them. Whenever I’m sad I’m going to die, or so nervous I can’t sleep, or in love with somebody I won’t be seeing for a week, I slump down so far and then I say: ‘I’ll go take a hot bath.'”

If Sylvia was a drink, she would be Sherry.
-“I drink sherry and wine by myself because I like it and I get the sensuous feeling of indulgence…luxury, bliss, erotic-tinged.” Like Sherry, Plath has a sweet aroma about her with an aftertaste of bitterness.

If Sylvia was a kind of mythology, she would be Greek.
-Throughout her poetry, she references several times Greek tragedies and the themes of some of her works have been constantly compared to the style of sound of a Greek tragedy. She uses mythology as a starting point for her tragic writing.

If Sylvia was an oxymoron, she would be joyous melancholy.
-Although her poetry largely contains themes that are unpleasant, Plath shows a passion for such topics. She is joyous about the melancholy.

If Sylvia was a season, she would be the monsoons.
-Like the rains that come during this season, Plath rains down her poetry on the world. She doesn’t hold back feelings and she believes wholeheartedly in letting the writing speak in its most true and honest way.

If Sylvia was a musical instrument, she would be the violin.
-If a violin is played by an amateur, it is the worst sound that can possibly be produced. Like this, if Plath is viewed by an amateur, she appears cold and driven by a mental illness that is out of her control. But, if a violin is played by an expert, the sound produced is extraordinarily beautiful. When Plath is studied as though she is not made up of her mental illness, her poetry speaks louder and softer and more powerfully than her mental illness.

If Sylvia was a natural phenomenon, she would be the crop circles.
-Like the appearance of some crop circles, Plath is hard to explain and even harder to forget about. She is a mystery to her readers because of her confusing mixture of hope and hopelessness in her work.