Category Archives: Musings

Slam Poetry in OKC

Last night after the first day of memoir writing was over, all the students in the seminar went out for dinner at Coaches, a pub-ish on Main Street. We have each $100 in Sooner Sense (1 pt = $1) to spend for the duration of the seminar (more than we really need, but no complaints), and Coaches is one of the businesses in town that honors those points. Excellent. $5.99 burgers all around, courtesy of OU.

After dinner, a few went to Orange Leaf to spend a few more of those points/dollars on soft serve ice cream. I rode back to the hotel with a few others. About halfway back, Jordan (the driver) mentioned that he was heading into OKC for a poetry slam after he dropped us off.

I almost got whiplash, my head swiveled so quickly.

Before stopping to think of the proper way of handling the situation, I asked if I could come. Practically invited myself.

I guess I’m that girl. But I didn’t care.

I have always wanted to attend a poetry slam. Since my manager this summer performed one of her pieces for our team, I’ve been fascinated with the art, intrigued by its honesty and force of self-expression. I’ve wanted to try it myself, but I don’t have the creative guts to do it. My inner critic tells me that I’d be terrible at it, so I believe it and still haven’t ever tried (though the idea comes back occasionally — to remind me that I’m a pansy, I guess).

In general I don’t care for most high brow poetry, so I don’t really seek out poetry to read on a regular basis. And when I write it, it turns in short iambic pentameter lines that all rhyme at the end. I sound like a fourth grader.

But slam poetry is incredible. I want to learn to write that. It’s honest, raw, and conveys intense emotion.

The poetry slam in OKC (really more of a reading, less of a contest) had the best atmosphere. People shouted out encouragements (“Say it, girl!”, lots of snapping, etc) after phrases that had extra zest and spring, and the general attitude was incredibly supportive. It was just a bunch of people from very diverse backgrounds appreciating and enjoying each other’s creative expressions. It was unbelievable.

It makes me want to go back every Wednesday night to be a part of that.

I’d like to try reciting/performing at least once. Maybe I’ll record myself and share it here (if I do).

To give you an idea of slam poetry (and because I think this is one of the AWESOMEST pieces of poetry I’ve ever heard), watch this. It gives me chills.

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Filed under Musings, Senior Year, Writing

Solvitur Ambulando

I’m a worrier. I’m a planner and a worrier to the n‘th degree. If there were awards for people who spent the most time thinking and planning for their future, I’d be solidly in the running.

Not that I think it’s all a bad thing. I guess I could use less of the worrying, but the planning really has gotten me quite far and has served me well. I don’t know if I could have accepted so many of the opportunities presented to me during undergrad if I hadn’t planned and worked hard to get me to the place where I had the necessary freedom and skills to accept.

However, while in Chicago I met a new friend who gave me a huge gift. And that gift was the phrase “solvitur ambulando.”

“It is solved by walking.”

“Problems are solved and/or made clear only by moving forward in practical action.”

Nothing in life is reached by planning alone. There’s a danger of dreaming and ideating and planning so much that you never put down the pen and start doing. And you’ll only get there by doing. Action. Movement. Progress.

So if I don’t know where I’m going from here, perhaps the best thing to do is just start walking. Look at the things I am passionate about — writing, painting, photography, film — and follow those paths. Tell stories. Share paintings. Be creative.

If I am adamantly following my passions and strengthening my skills in those areas, then the opportunities will follow from there. That I believe wholeheartedly.

It’s just that letting go of my iron-fisted control over my future plans will be difficult. It will take a strength and determination that I’m not sure I have.

But I guess, as in all things, solvitur ambulando.

Time to start walking.

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Filed under Musings

Losing My Zen

The fastest way to lose all this great inner peace stored up over the break is to start thinking ahead toward the coming semester. Then the illusion of “Oh, I’ll have so much free time to be creative because I’m only taking twelve hours” comes crashing down, revealing the behemoth of extra-curricular activities and responsibilities to which I’ve already committed (and conveniently tend to push into the back recesses of my mind).

Grrreeeeaaaaattt.

I can feel my zen deflating like one of those helium balloons left out in the cold too long.

It’s funny, because I do this absolutely every single semester (you’d think I’d know better by now). I start by simplifying my upcoming responsibilities in my mind so they feel manageable. And once I’ve drawn myself a comforting black and white picture, I look at that and only that — until a couple weeks before the semester starts. Then, when it comes time to write goals and make plans, all the nuances of all the little things that I’m also committeed to flood in. And I freak out. Stress out. Freeze.

This freezing business is dangerous. For example, I’m starting to get important emails again. Important emails that I really should have replied to today (or yesterday). I should not leave them for tomorrow (or Monday). But the sub-zero-ness of stress has taken me over, and I can’t respond.

Or wont.

It’s a slippery slope.

My refusal to rejoin the world of the working is just the first step, I imagine. I’ll probably progress with alarming swiftness to more dangerous things like running traffic lights, not voting, and stealing purses from old ladies.

Save me from myself!!!

Anyway, instead of doing my work, I continue to blog and read memoirs and take naps. I live in denial that I only have a week and a half until classes begin. Of course, once they do, I’ll be kicking myself that I didn’t start on all these projects earlier.

Which I really should. Really really really should.

Maybe I should take up yoga. Get some of that zen back. Except instead of chanting “Om,” I can slip in a couple extra syllables and say something like “Don’t streeeessssssssssss” and “Dooooooo yoooooooouur wooooooooooorrrrrkkkk.”

The last one has a nice calming drone to it.

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Filed under Future Plans, Musings

My Airport Friend

This little fellow seranaded me (beautifully) for a good ten minutes while I sat munching on my delicious, fresh (a rarity!) chicken salad sandwich in the Denver Airport yesterday. When he started, I kept looking around for the source of the tweeting, thinking that maybe the delirium of late-night painting and packing was finally getting to me. But then I looked straight up.

 And when I finally found him, I couldn’t stop staring. He was a pretty little thing, with snowy feathers and a voice for the stage. No one else around seemed to notice (or care) that he was there. They just kept eating and talking on their bluetooths and checking their watches incessantly so they wouldn’t miss their flights. No one paid any attention to the little bird trilling his heart out in the high rafters above their heads.

It was tragic.

I mean, it’s obvious that he was able to find a way in, but I doubt he’ll be able to find a way out again. So there he sat, trapped inside a huge airport terminal, warbling to harried travelers and irritated fast food workers. No one looked up. Even his tiny last gift to the world was being completely ignored.

A bird dying in an airport– a modern marvel of metal and concrete where wingless mammals have learned to defy gravity– strikes me as incredibly ironic.

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Notes on Flying

I would imagine that the United States seems like a much smaller place if you’re a flight attendant. If you’re traveling cross-country three times in a day, it has to lose some of its allure. And magic. Which is a shame.

I’ve flown my fair share of times (to and from school, etc), and I still love flying. It never gets old, even when I’m half-dead from a lack of sleep and the slow-to-dissipate stress from packing (because I think I’m literally incapable of starting my packing endeavors any earlier than midnight before a 6 a.m. flight. It’s inevitable).

But regardless, I’m still in love with flying. I still love the exhilaration of take-off, the thrill of seeing a familiar face in a terminal of strangers, and the inner leaping of my heart when I find that my suitcase fits neatly under the 50 lb weight limit.

I used to want to be a flight attendant like nobody’s business. I wanted that cute blue suit, wanted to chat with attractive pilots, and fly all over the country. I still wouldn’t mind that, I guess. Especially the flirting with pilots part.  

But the way I see it, flying wouldn’t be the same if I did it everyday.

Old hat = no more fun.

So I’m sticking to my day job (or will, once I get one). And I’ll continue to love flying, and I’ll still get enjoyment from being a speedy security check-through-er, and I’ll love finding that one restaurant in the Denver airport with fresh, not soggy sandwiches. Ka-ching!

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Filed under Loving Right Now, Musings

Readjusting Expectations

Coming back to my hometown always takes an adjustment. The city (does it really count as a city?) never seems to change — same streets, mostly the same businesses, mostly the same people– and yet it all feels different.

There’s now nothing to do.

I have no idea how I managed to stay entertained in high school.

Also, the house I grew up in has since been sold, so when I’m here I stay in a new place with different smells and sounds. I know it doesn’t seem like much, and I guess I’d have hoped that by the time I was getting ready to graduate I wouldn’t need that traditional “home” feeling anymore. But I still do. And it’s not there anymore. A bit sad, in a way.

But I’m not saying that I completely dislike the challenges of a new place. They can be fun. For example, as I’ve stated before, setting up a new kitchen is really a blast.

And I love organizing other people’s stuff. I get this strange satisfaction from looking at a mess and transforming it into a comfortable, livable space. Clutter stresses me out.

So, being the great guy that he is, my dad has pretty much given me free reign of setting up and organizing his apartment. Currently sitting on his kitchen counter is a running list of all the things he needs to get his bachelor pad in good shape for after I leave.

I think that if all my other career ideas don’t pan out, I’ll just become a professional organizer and have people hire me to organize their lives.

I’m reluctant to admit I can think of only a handful of careers that sound like more fun. Writing, producing, and wedding planning are some of them. I think I’m officially adding professional organizer to my list of potential life paths. The more the merrier, right?

Back on the topic of adjustments . . . The other thing about coming back to Billings is that people move or change, or both (which is good). Very few people have stayed the same, even if it sometimes feels like this town is in a constant state of stagnation.

So the list of people I make a point of seeing every break keeps getting smaller and smaller, until I’m at the point where I only see three or four people (though those three or four are very special to me). I spend the rest of my time at coffee shops, writing and thinking of home. Oklahoma is home. Temporarily, at least.

Then I’ll move and make a new home.

Sorry I keep talking about this. It’s been on my mind a lot lately. I’ve termed it “the plague of the petrified soon-to-be college graduate.” Catchy, right?

I’m looking into trademark options as we speak.

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Filed under Future Plans, Musings

Dreaming of a White Christmas?

Warm, rainy Arizona weather isn’t exactly what gets me in the mood for Christmas. I’ve even slipped on my daily ritual of Pandora Christmas music while aimlessly cleaning the house. The last part is probably the direct result of not being at home anymore (not that my sister would mind if I randomly started 409-ing her house, I’m sure).

In short, I’ve been feeling much less Christmas-y in the last few days. But hopefully today will cure that. I’m braving the malls with my mother (what shouts louder of holiday cheer than a massive throng of frustrated, harried shoppers?) to find me a pair of black flats (yay Christmas presents!), and then my family and I are going to that rich neighborhood with all the Christmas lights that I was telling you about earlier.

I’m also buying some real film for the old camera that my mom is letting me borrow (made in the 70s = true vintage), so maybe there will be some pretty pictures of my Christmas festivities up on the blog soon.

Until then, may your days be merry and bright!

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Filed under Family, Musings