Daily Prompt: Lofty
Know me like a book
Open the paper treasure
Daily Prompt: Lofty
Know me like a book
Open the paper treasure
Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt.
“I never write my own papers, I pay someone else to write them,” she said. I heard this as I was scratching out the rough draft of a 15-page essay for a college class. The era was late B.C., just before computers.
In those days I spent many Sundays in a library writing on a yellow legal pad. Only one library near me opened its doors on Sundays. Shortly before those doors opened at 1 p.m., a crowd gathered by the entrance. The place was packed and all tables were shared.
Once such Sunday, I happened to share a table with five high school students. One of the girls in the group began to stare at me. I sensed it before I looked up and caught her in the act.
She was unfazed. That’s when she made her comment about hiring out her writing assignments.
I guess I got slammed. I was expending senseless effort for no good reason. Perhaps she assumed I lacked the funds to hire out a writer. She could not imagine a reason to go through the agony of researching and writing on her own.
But I kept on moving the pen across the yellow sheets. Researching ideas, finding connections between ideas, and interjecting my own ideas into the mix was pleasurable. I love some of the sentences I have written even though no one else cares.
I wonder what happened to the young woman at the library. Did she discover that she couldn’t survive by her mouth alone? Did her job force her to begin communicating with the written word too? Maybe she married and/or divorced well and never needed job-seeking or job-keeping skills.
Or maybe she went on to become a best-selling author and I’m living in the blog dust. That would be something to write about.
Khalil Gibran once said that people will never understand one another unless language is reduced to seven words. What would your seven words be?
I am quiet, tell me a story.
On the Edge
We all have things we need to do to keep an even keel — blogging, exercising, reading, cooking. What’s yours?
I will share some things I do that keep me from going off the edge.
Number one must be exercising. Yoga helps my arthritis and calms my mind. The weight work I do must keep my bone density as strong as it is even at my old age. It also keeps the old arms from flapping too much in the wind. Elliptical machines keep my heart pumping without stressing out the knees. I enjoy watching the plants, animals, and people go by from my bicycle. Going out in the flower and vegetable garden is calming and surprisingly a good workout. Gardening makes me sore in ways that my other activity doesn’t.
A close second is reading. If I only sat and read (tempting at times) I would be depressed. Between contemplating my navel with philosophy and contemplating the infinite universe along with the minuscule particles of physics, I’m sure I would run off screaming at some point. For a necessary easy-going escape, I love my mystery novels and historical fiction. A bad reality or just a boring one can be solved by a book. By reading books written by people very different than myself, I can empathize and get away from myself. I felt like a pile of bricks fell on my head when I read the last page of “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe. I think that is the way the book should have hit me.
Writing must be third. Writing things out helps me learn. People tell me to stop taking notes and just look and listen. I’m not wired that way. The act of writing and rewriting allows me to understand new concepts. Writing is also my therapy to work through bad memories and new stresses. It can modify my thoughts and opinions, maybe for the better. Writing makes me think through ideas and conclusions can change. Writing (and reading) has allowed me to feel that “Cleaving in My Mind” that Emily Dickinson expressed in her poetry. I totally enjoy that.
Tutoring in a literacy program, I would place fourth on my list. It keeps me doing something useful and keeps me from becoming too self-absorbed. Another good reason to get up every morning. I want to share not just the practical aspects of reading and writing with another person, but also the sheer joy. A world without books, paper and pens is in itself too sad to think about.
Gotta go, plants to trim, weeds to pull. Moving farther from the edge.
Oh, The Irony
This week’s challenge explores one of the oldest — and trickiest — literary devices.
She said she loved Wales. I said, I do too!
Mary was my mother’s good friend from childhood and I sometimes drove my mother over to her house for them to visit. Neither of them ever drove a car, and now that they were older, even the public transportation just a few steps from their front doors, could be daunting to them.
So I would come by and sit while they talked. I learned:
Yet I got excited about my shared interest with Mary. Whales.
Whales represent America, American literature, natural beauty, grace mixed with strength; mostly due to an influential class on Melville I took in school.
Now Mary kept talking about her passion, I kept talking about mine. A few times she looked at me quizzically. And a few times I thought her comments about whales were odd.
Finally she pulled out a large coffee table book off her coffee table and showed it to me. The title was “England and Wales.” A castle graced the gorgeous book cover.
This was the most ironic conversation of my life. I tried to take another sip of the coffee.
Rosencrantz: What are you playing at?
Guildenstern: Words, words. They’re all we have to go on.
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead
She chastised me because I used a word. She told me a person cannot be Oriental, since it is degrading. I was out of the loop, I did not know. The preferred word is Asian, a person can be an Asian.
What’s in a word? It helps us communicate and limits our communication at the same time. It can be artificial, complex and ever-changing. There is heaven and hell in those words. Take pleasure in its playfulness and beauty. Find frustration when communication fails.
In Latin, orient simply means east. That was the origin of the word and the end of it became insulting. Evidently people from Asia don’t call themselves Oriental, and it’s best to call people the name that they prefer. I learned that calling a person Oriental is an antiquated term that calls to mind a time when Western peoples viewed Asians in a subordinate way.
So Asian or Asian-American is preferred. And so is African-American. Say Native-American instead of American Indian. An Indian is actually an Asian. We end up chasing our tails.
This whole idea of hyphenating Americans is a bit odd to me since hyphenation carries its own inherent flaws.
The word America is named after Amerigo Vespucci. An Italian explorer, Amerigo stumbled upon what is now part of Brazil. An early mapmaker decided to name this part of the world America after this Amerigo guy and plunked that label onto his map. Soon other mapmakers started to label the lands north of Brazil as America also. So by chance, the continents were called North and South America.
So where does this leave hyphenated Americans? You give up the words like Oriental and Black in exchange for the name of a dead-white man that poked his nose into an indigenous population beyond his own borders. I don’t see a vast improvement. Other words such as black, white, red, and yellow also fail to accurately describe human beings.
The West creates more word crimes than anyone else. Through a modern political lens, Western civilization has a name, and that name is evil. The word and the land America may find itself in jeopardy.
Native-Americans crossed into the the Americas about 25,000 years ago; relative newcomers to this land since humans first appeared on the planet about 160,000 years ago in East Africa.
In more realistic terms, we are all East Africans that have wandered far across the globe. A politically correct analysis: We torment the rest of the animal and plant kingdoms, and tamper with the climate and the earth’s crust. All of humanity is the real evil in this world view. Paradise was lost when humans entered the scene.
The world and the words in it are not perfect and never will be. Can’t we just relax and enjoy our discourse and disagreements without a call to self-flagellation? Do the best we can, do no purposeful harm, and move on. That’s all we have to go on. Go peacefully.
My good friend has thick, curly, salt and pepper hair that reaches past her shoulders. I’ve known her about 35 years. Or I should say I met her 35 years ago. Some years I never spoke or wrote to her. Her birthday just passed by last month and I just remembered. Not even a greeting card from me. So maybe she is not my good friend after all. But I hate to think that way.
We met at work and I saw her every day, five days a week, until she decided to pursue a master’s degree in literature. She left and lived in Indiana, Puerto Rico, Iowa, and Indiana again. She taught in China. She traveled multiple times to Europe. I stayed home and never wandered too far. I like to think she is Melville to my Dickinson. But that is only when my ego and sanity run amuck.
We lost touch and found it again a few times over the years. Out of all my friends, and there aren’t that many, I want to consider her my dearest. It’s not what it is, but what I desire. I feel we could have known each other better than anyone else could have. I’m not easy to get close to and I’ve pushed away a fair share of people.
I remember a girl I met in my freshman year at college. She went out of her way to talk to me and one day said she hoped to hang out with me. I said I was busy with a boyfriend, school, and work. I saw some pain and bitterness in her face as if she had been on the receiving end of rejection before. I didn’t see the worth of what she was offering me. I relive that moment with regret at the friendship unexplored.
My good friend had thick, curly, dark brown hair that reached past her shoulders. She wished it were straight. I wished I could trade her hair for my straight, thin, limp, dishwater blond hair. But what percentage of women love their hair? The curly, chemically straighten. The straight haired, curl. The brown dye blond, the blond dye brown, an endless cycle. Critical women slammed the undone black hair of the fit and pretty Gabrielle Douglas at this past Olympics. I do not know the complex world of black women’s hair. But I do know that women want the hair that they do not have.
I dyed my hair just before I last saw my good friend in March. I bought a box color and as usual, was not happy with the results. Even an expensive salon dye job never made me content. The stylist would show me a color sample and tell me it was perfect for me. But the color never matched the sample. Even if the color came out just OK, it quickly faded or turned brassy.
I haven’t dyed since. The grey, white, and mousy light brown hair is becoming prominent on my head. My good friend was part of my inspiration. Each day, I notice more women that let the grey out. I like it.
The dye often irritated my scalp. I’m not wasting money on that box of dye or on salon treatments I don’t love. No more brassy gold, red blond, quick-to-fade brown.
Don’t get me wrong, grey is not the new blond. The forever young baby boomers can’t claim gray hair is youthful. I’m just letting my inner hagness out. I don’t regret looking old. My regrets have more to do with friendships that failed to flower. So instead, I type to an anonymous few.
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