So first of all, this week's been pretty crazy. (Long rant about my personal life ahead. Skip a few paragraphs if you don't care.)
First I was rushing to try and finish at least "a part of a first draft" for my French final paper, for Wednesday. Then I wrote my first column for Indie Reader that I'm getting paid for, and I won't link to it because I'm just worried it might not be allowed. Trust me, it's not a fun read, it's just basically a summary of some current events, you're not missing anything. (No offense to my... boss? I think?... who edited it and made it way better haha). Then I started work on my final paper for my class on cultures of India, which is supposed to be 20 pages and is due this coming Wednesday. (Currently on page 9, which is pretty decent, I think!)
And then, because all technology is allergic to me, we had the newest chapter in a long and beautiful story of my laptops in my life breaking. See, when I started college this past September, my grandmother got me a nice new laptop. It started breaking down just in time for winter break, so my dad took it to try and fix it and gave me one of the other laptops we have around the house to take to school. (He's a computer programmer so we have a bunch of laptops just lying around. We are not nearly as rich as that makes us sound.) Then I was drinking water one day and I just HAD to choke and spew it all over THAT laptop. So it broke down. So my dad brought me the previous laptop, which was working OK now, and I used that. Naturally, a few weeks in, it started having difficulties turning on and the screen kept being super zoomed in, but I didn't care, whatever. Then, this morning, I minimize the file with my paper only to see that my Rumbleroar desktop background has been replaced with a message of doom. Literally. My desktop had a ransom letter written on it telling me to pay up or my files would NEVER BE RETURNED!!! *lightning strike*
Luckily I back up my files regularly, so this offer didn't tempt me. I copied and pasted the text of my paper into Gmail and emailed it to myself, then I just sighed and waited for my dad who was luckily visiting today. So now, I have once again switched back to laptop 2. Sorry if all that was confusing. It's just my life with technology.
OK. Time for the real post! I needed to rant, haha.
My new experience this week was attending a performance by various talented artists. There's this thing in Westchester County (where my college is) called the ArtsWestchester's Festival or something, and every year they honor 50 artists in this thing called the "50 for 50" initiative. I really don't know the details. Anyway, so the reason this matters is that 5 of the honored artists were faculty at my school, Sarah Lawrence College. If you didn't know, Sarah Lawrence basically has the best faculty in America. And one of the honored artists is my poetry teacher, Marie Howe, so I thought, why not go? Funnily enough, I'd never read or heard any of her poems, despite the fact that she has read tons of my poetry for class. That is an odd dynamic to have with a famous acclaimed poet. So I was like, I need to balance this out and hear some of her poetry, and see some other good artists, and probably get free food while I'm at it.
Well, the free food didn't work out so well, since none of it was vegetarian except some carrots and a thing of figs and cheese (of which there was only one left by the time I got there, which made me sad). But the art was amazing! Marie's poems were really excellent, all themed around Mary Magdalene. Next was a composer named Chester Biscardi, who played us some opera he'd composed based on poetry. After that, a choreographer, Maxine Sherman, told us her life story and then had one of her dance students perform a piece she'd choreographed. I will never cease to be amazed by dancers. I can't even get out of bed in the morning without grumbling and this girl is twisting her body into beautiful positions without a second thought. Anyway, the last piece was this guy who did this weird and funny multimedia piece about weather reporters (it sounds boring but it was GREAT), but before he went, a fiction writing teacher went up and read an 11-page short story he'd written recently called "Tolstoy and God." I tried to find a link to it but alas, it is not online yet. Which is a shame because I wish I could share it with you all. It was so funny, everyone in the audience was nearly dying of laughter. But it was also extremely well-written and made me sort of light up with happiness after a not-so-great day. (I had spent the day avoiding doing any work, which always gives me stress). It made me feel like my eyes were reflecting the light again after having only been dark for a while before.
The other pieces were very good, too, and also touched me from an art critic kind of perspective. This is not to say that the dance or the poems or the opera or multimedia piece were any less good than the short story. But the short story sort of woke something up in me that had been tired for a while. I think what it was was good prose writing. Prose that made sense, that made people laugh to the point of crying, that made people say, "I get it." Prose that people were probably talking in the car about after on the ride home and remembering a week later and stifling a laugh in the middle of class. The kind of prose I want to write.
There are lots of forms of art, lots of ways for artists to get the "thing" in their souls out in the world and over to other people's souls. The "thing" of light and understanding and whatever it is. I've received that from so many artists in so many ways, through beautiful poems that I read and felt in my own heartbeat, through music that vibrated through my ears and stirred my mind into illegible emotion, through paintings that gave something to me in the light beams reflecting in my eyes. But prose, I think, will always be the form that makes the most sense to me. Specifically, stories. Some people communicate things best with straightforward sentences, some with numbers, some with drawings, some with music, some with their bodies, some with metaphors. But I do it best with stories. If I want to explain how I feel to someone, I tell them, "you know, like when you do this and this happens and then this" and they go "ohhh, yeah," because I just told them a story and they followed the story until they understood how I felt. If I want to make an argument so that someone understands why some issue matters, I tell them a story about someone whose life was hurt by that issue. And when I read and hear stories, the world makes more sense to me. I learned all the things I really know from books, from stories. From prose.
I love writing poetry, and I love drawing. But I miss prose. Not that I haven't been writing it, I just haven't been writing it as much. It's funny, but when I do write, things really do seem to light up. When I feel sad, I pull out my notebook and write until the world is right again. It always works. I wish I would remember that when I spend time doing things that aren't writing, or aren't reading.
So this was a love letter to prose. Of all the things that have kept me alive, stories have kept me alive the most. I'm sorry I spend so much of my time not telling them, and not hearing them.
Thanks for reading my post! See you on Wednesday,