CNF: To An Old Roommate, I’m So Sorry

I’m sorry I wasn’t the roommate I was supposed to be. I needed to be slutty and hot and sweet and sexy and wholesome and rich and innocent and snobby. I’m sorry I let you drag me along, open door policy, knocking on doors around the dorm to introduce myself to random people on our floor, tossing hair over shoulders.

I’m sorry I flinched away at that tossed hair. That I wanted a bob that barely passed my chin, that when I tucked it behind my ear guys said I looked adorable. I’m sorry that you got that angry look in your eyes when guys said that even though I was shy I was the friendlier of us two. I’m sorry that guys said they’d rather date me than date you. I’m sorry I couldn’t be the roommate I was supposed to be.

I’m sorry that you said ‘this is a secret, don’t tell anyone’ to so many people that it was no longer a secret. I never said anything to anyone. I’m sorry I kept your secret and let people think you were the sweet one and I was the evil one. I’m sorry that there had to be a difference between the two of us.

I’m sorry that you moved out because others, on the floor, wrote SLUT on the door in big black letters that seemed to dig into the board. I’m sorry that when I spoke up – I’m still a virgin – everyone knew that the SLUT was you. I’m sorry that when you left I shut my door, no more open policy, and I retreated into myself.

I’m sorry for lowering my head, and my eyes, whenever I saw you in the halls because when you left you moved down the hall and I had to see your smug face every day. I’m sorry that after our roommate split, our mutual friends had to choose between us and they eventually chose you because your lies depicted me in a false light. I’m sorry that I didn’t correct them. After a certain point, I didn’t care anymore. I just wanted to do well in school even though I knew, that November, it was already too late.

I’m sorry that I trusted you to keep your word. That when you, and the other supposed friends, lied to me he was able to do what he did. I’m sorry that when I opened the door and saw him standing there – the one who had hit me before but claimed he’d been drunk- I let him in. I’m sorry that I was angry at you for not being truthful. For because you didn’t come – which you’d told him you weren’t – he held me down and slapped me around. I’m sorry that he laughed as he ground his pelvis into mine. Our clothes tugging and pulling between us, the buckle of his belt leaving a deep impression into the soft skin of my belly. 

I’m sorry that I couldn’t move, though I always thought I would, and I’m sorry I thought of you. My eyes were closed so tight and I also thought of my childhood. I thought of when I was a child and one of the teens pushed her hands between my legs and I couldn’t say no, didn’t know better than to say no. I thought of when I was even younger and was burned in my scalp with cigarette butts. I relive that pain everyday that I hide the scars in my head. As I lay there, letting him paw me, I thought of my brother slapping me, punching me, kicking me down. I thought of being told I was too ugly to be loved or cared for. I’m sorry that I remembered when I was seven suicide was on my mind but I promised myself that I’d stay alive long enough to go to college, so I could learn amazing things and oh, how it would be to be on my own and to finally be safe. Feel safe. I’m sorry that I couldn’t move because my life flashed before my eyes and not the highlights – as it’s said to happen when near death but the dark parts of my life. They went by like a bullet train.

I’m sorry that because you lied to me, he did this and I thought of all that when I was supposed to be past it. When I was supposed to be healed. When having gone to college and starting a new life for myself was supposed to be different. Despite some of your behavior, I didn’t think you would want this for me. I didn’t think you told him to come over and do this to me. Did you? Did you tell him to come teach me a lesson? I’m sorry but I never learned it.

I’m sorry that when I finally punched him, with a weak hand, I thought of you. I thought of how you lied to me and how because of that he was able to do what he did. I’m sorry for never speaking up about him despite being so afraid I rarely left my room and flunked two of my classes that semester. I’m sorry that every day I would see him in the elevator and he would look at me with one eyebrow raised as if to ask me if I’d told on him yet. I would take in a shaky breath and blow it out so slow and so silent that I wasn’t sure I was doing it at all.

I’m just so sorry. I hope you can forgive me for not being the roommate I was supposed to be.

Good Readdance,
Jade
(creative non-fiction – written for a school assignment – still revising)

CNF: Levels of Acceptance

I hear you out there. You’re enjoying your night, clinking glasses, knocking forks against plates, and murmuring pleasantries around the table. I wish I could join you. My belly rumbles as the pungent smell of cayenne pepper, lemon and garlic crusted, oven roasted chicken floats up the stairs, down the hall and through the small key hole of the door. I can just taste the thick heap of coagulated sugar sitting at the bottom of the Kool-aid container. 

From my perch on the opposite side of the door, I kneel before the hollow wood and close my eyes. I imagine the red ring the sweet liquid leaves as you raise your glasses to your lips and slurp. Tongue stained, teeth bared as ice crunches between them. 

I take a deep breath in. Is that apple pie I smell? Or has my imagination, overwrought with the need for belonging, begun to invent things? I inhale deeply.

Definitely apple pie, then.

I sigh as I sit back on my haunches, my damp hands pressing against my thighs. My stomach growls again and I turn my head. “And what do you think we will eat?” I ask. 

My brother sits on the floor not too far from me. We don’t use the furniture because that would mean we existed, should we mess things up. He is unbothered, or at least pretending to be, and twiddles his thumbs on his lap. 

“Something,” he murmurs so low I wonder if I imagined it. I imagine a lot. I’m not sure why. I make up stories in my head. I tell myself untruths so real that life doesn’t seem so bad. I turn back to the door and I tell myself a story: They’ll come to the door any second. They will unlock the door. 

The First Level of Acceptance

They won’t be holding paper plates in their hands to force us to feed on the floor like animals. No, they’ll have open palms and open hearts. Generosity will shine from their eyes and they will beckon us forward. Inviting us into their lives. 

The Second Level of Acceptance.

We will rise, eyes wide with gratitude, bellies growling, also in gratitude. We’ll follow them downstairs where two extra place settings have been polished and two extra plush chairs have been drawn. Everyone at the table will stand to their feet.

Are we equals or royalty? I don’t know, but I feel respected. 

The Third Level of acceptance. 

I will reach back and grab my brother’s hand. He’s older but I’m mentally stronger, I know,  and more determined. When we sit, they sit. They’re watching us, waiting as we pick up our utensils, and we smile apologetically, knowing, in our haste to feed our starving bellies, we’ve forgotten our prayers. They don’t mind and we bow our heads, though we are unable to take our eyes off the glistening food. After prayers, they once again wait for us to begin eating. 

The Fourth Level of Acceptance. 

We don’t sit in silence. Oh no, the room grows louder with mirth and converse of past indiscretions and future aspirations. We, my brother and I, tell tall tales and ensnare them with our dreams. Dreams that peg us as more than two black kids whose mother didn’t love them, stuck in the foster care system, locked away in closets, while the ‘real kids’ ate at the dinner table. They’ll look back at us in agreement. “Yes, you’ll make it out,” they’ll say. Their eyes showing they truly believe in us. 

The Fifth Level of Acceptance. 

The story ends there because I’m not sure how the night would go on, not even in my head. I’m never there to see what happens to the family after their meal is over and the forks are crossed. 

Are they crossed? Or are they thrown haphazardly atop the chicken’s carcass or the half eaten bowl of overcooked mashed potatoes? Do they disperse to their respective corners? Do the children help clean up the dishes? Is the mother calling out bedtimes and homework reminders? 

I don’t know this part because they retreat to a section of the house I cannot hear with my little girl ears, no matter how hard I strain. I lean closer to the door. The clink, clink, clink of utensils bounce off the soft walls of my growling belly. I stay there until my toes go numb from the kneeling position.  I want to get up but I’m afraid to miss something, anything. 

A deep timber rings out, the father is saying something in a stern voice. Voices grow closer. The stairs creak under lazy feet. Finally, we have been remembered, I think as footsteps pitter patter across the hall to the door. 

I scramble back, gangly legs too long for my body propel me across the carpet to the place next to my brother. My place they’ve put me in. The key scrapes in the door and I hold my breath, remembering my story, hopeful. The door swings open on old hinges. 

“You better not have been touching nothing,” the woman growls between clenched, red-stained teeth. She sweeps the room with her gaze as if to find something, anything, we’ve stolen, or broken, or to find us as if we’d somehow escaped. We shake our heads. Then the paper plate appears. Just one, for the two of us. 

Level of Acceptance: Zero.

CNF: I’m Not Afraid of Water

Note: I just wanted to preface this and say that I’ve capitalized certain pronouns for a reason. However, I didn’t want to explain to remove the effect until after it’s been read. 

Creative Non-Fiction:

I’m Not Afraid of Water

 

“I’m not afraid of water,” I whisper to myself and bend my knees. There aren’t any bugs or leaves in the water, that I can see, and yet I search and search. Procrastinating, as usual. I’m afraid, even though I know that The Sky’s the Limit summer camp is one of the safest places for me to be. I know that no one will hurt me here. They would have no reason to come here.

They, the caseworkers, always came too late anyway, I felt. They always showed up after I’d already been hit, or kicked, or burned. They always wanted a status update after someone had already pushed me or pulled a knife or held me in a grip so tight, I couldn’t breathe. You might feel like my anger was misplaced. They could save me. They could use their pen as a weapon and fire it in my defense. I’d be able to leave the wandering hands, the wandering eyes, and I would be safe. 

Yes, you might come to that conclusion, but I didn’t. It’d been so long since I was able to trust anyone, if I ever could, and I know I would rather they be as far away as possible than to have them near with their false promises. Even I, at twelve years old, knew what weight someone’s word carried. There, standing at the edge of the pool, I wondered why no one ever gave their word to me and kept it.

***

 As the boat pulled us through the water, I stare up at clouds shaped like animals and flowers. The sun winks at me from behind them and I smile in return. Even at six, I know the sun brought happiness, healing and warmth to the soul. I close my eyes and let the serotonin roll over my skin.

 The wind is heavy, here in the back of the boat, and I think if only a bigger gust would just take me away. I think maybe if I step up on the small boat seat, the plastic rocking beneath my tiny feet, the wind might hear my thoughts and whip me up into its arms, taking me away from Them. 

 “Hey,” His voice exclaims behind me, as if He read my thoughts. She yanks me away from the edge and my eyes fly open. The hardness in Her eyes, devoid of love, makes me flinch and shrivel into the small life jacket strapped too tightly around my tiny waist. 

 “Do you want to go back?” She spat the words out through tight lips. I stare up at her, imagining fangs emerging from behind them. Venom dripping from their tips as She would bare Her teeth at me. She gives me a hard shake, “Do you?” I move my chin slightly and She nods. “Good, now sit down and stay there until I tell you, you can get up.”

 I scramble across the boat on unsteady legs and climb into my plastic chair, it’s one of those seats that holds a storage area beneath it for valuables or things that need to stay dry. Wallets and the like. It’s supposed to lock in place, but He’d messed it up somehow and it never closes quite right. 

 I peek a glance at my brother and his face is turned from me, I could see from the set of his shoulders that he was angry at me. That I almost ruined our day. Either that or he was desperately trying not to look at me in case he gets roped into my disobedience and They make him ‘sit down and shut up’, too. Any thoughts of him wanting to protect his little sister, went out the window. I’m not ‘little sister’ today.

 I stay there, in the chair, using my peripherals to look at the lake around us. I know I can turn my head and look but I’m afraid. I’m a heathen, They say. An animal unable to resist my instincts, and I know it’s true. Sometimes I get so angry I slam my hands down on my thighs until they sting. Sometimes, I’m so mad, I scratch at them until they bleed.

 So, I know if I turn my head to look, I won’t be able to help myself. I’ll get up, wishing the water of the lake would take me up and drown me – not really but my imagination is vast, and I could see it the water filling my mouth and pulling me down, down, down into its dark arms. I know She’ll just stop me again, grabbing me tight until her nails dig deep, breaking the skin. Little beads of blood would appear at the punctured skin. It wouldn’t because She loves me. She would stop me because my death would be hard to explain away as “You know foster kids, they’re just so reckless.”

***

I’m standing in front of the pool again, having moved closer to the shallow end, taking a deep breath in and expelling it out through my open mouth. ‘I’m not afraid of water,” I whisper again. Duh, I’ve gone camping. “But that doesn’t mean I can swim, stupid.” I know it’s dumb, pretending I can talk to myself, but it comforts me. I am, after all, the only one that cares what I have to say. 

“Just get…in,” the last word is yelled as I’m picked up and I feel tight arms wrap around my waist, I see it drawing near, the deep end. Ten feet of deep blue water. I shake my head and thrash, elbows and knees bending and jerking spastically. I’m small, although I’m twelve, and my brother is so much bigger than I. Long lanky arms and long lanky legs to match, he’s pretty enough to be a model, everyone says so. I don’t care about that, I just want him to put me down, and he does. 

My head whips so fast as he catapults me into the air. As I’m falling down, down, down, I look up at the sky but it is not a friend to me. It’s clouds do not pillow my fall and I slip away from them. My legs pull in tight, not into a cannonball, into fear. I hit the surface of the water, but I don’t not see the pool. I see the lake.  

*** 

We’ve released the anchor and the boat is rocking in place. My brother has removed his shirt and his small bird chest peeks out from between the straps of his life jacket. He’s turned away, back to the scenery around us, or maybe just away from me. I want to get up from my seat, to lean over the edge and feel the water on my fingertips, but She hasn’t said so yet.  

Him, Her, and my brother are getting the fishing poles ready. A small white bucket of squirming worms sits at my feet. Hooking the bait is my job, my punishment, but what they don’t know is that I love fishing. I like to see that worm fly in the air and bring me back a nice little fishy. I like to see the pulse of the gills as it sucks in air instead of water. I just don’t realize how morbid it all is.  

One after another I’m handed the poles until I receive mine. I don’t put a worm on the hook, just tap, tap, tap at the sharp edge with a fingertip. 

“You can get up, just stand there for a bit, let us get going first,” He says, His voice quiet as to not disturb the fish. 

I hide my excitement and turn to the water. Lifting my pole, I pretend to fish, whipping it back and forth with my hands. It was made specifically for a small child. It’s tiny pink reel and lever fit perfectly in my hand. The pole’s long rod is pink with extended silver eyelets that held the line in place. I swing it back and forth with gusto. It snaps silently, thin line slicing against the air and this time it snags. I yank it forward a split second later without thinking.

A howl fills the air and I turn around so fast the pole almost smacks against the lip of the boat. My brother is doubled over, grasping at the fleshy space between his neck and shoulder. My eyes fill with tears when I see the blood between his fingers. The red against his soft brown skin is a stark contrast and I’m confused. I look quickly to the line hanging from the end of my pole. There, just at the tip of the large hook is a small piece of bloody flesh. 

Everything seemed to move at once. She went to my brother, snatching up at towel on Her way. Venom once again spewed from Her lips. The man came to me, hatred in His eyes. He speaks but I do not hear what He says. I can only feel the fear building in my chest, freezing me in place. With one hand, He snatches the pole, with its fleshing prize, from my hands. With the other He grabs me under one shoulder. His meaty fingers dig into my underarm, His thumb pressing against my clavicle and I’m off my feet. He tosses me, like a rag doll, into the air and my jaw snaps shut. 

 For a moment I wonder if the wind has finally granted my wish, if I’d float away on pillows of clouds. Then I’m falling down, down, down until the water breaks my descent. 

I go under, as you initially do, the life jacket unable to win the battle against gravity. My arms and legs flap as I’m helplessly trying to right myself. The emptiness beneath me threatens to pull me under. I wonder if my brother would mind, if I let it take me. My fight against water ceases and I go down and down. Then I feel something, a fallen branch maybe, scratch against my leg and I panic, kicking at it, at anything. The life jacket finally does its job and my head is propelled above water. I sputter, expelling murky lake water, my eyes burning from the strain to stay open and alert underneath it. I bow my back, anything to keep from tipping side to side. 

*** 

I open my eyes under the pool water, the chlorine stinging at the corners. I try to stay calm. I’ve been here before, but I thrash a bit, unable to control my limbs. Remembering what I’d seen the other campers do, I make like a frog. Kicking my legs out and bending at the knee. With my arms, I push the water down, down, down hoping the momentum will keep my head above water. It does.  

I take a deep breath and dive my head under. I move like I’d seen swimmers do in the movies, pushing my arms in front of me and then back to my hips, kicking my legs up and down. I felt the air on my heels as I kicked, though I was sure all of me was supposed to be under water. My chest burned as I tried to hold the air in. Finally, there it was, the side of the pool. I grasp it like a life line and pull myself up. 

My brother’s there, whooping and hollering, excited he taught me to swim, I’m sure. “You did it,” he yelled. I’m angry. How had he forgotten? How could he forget?I’d never forgotten, I think. I will never, ever, ever forget the lake

 *** 

I sat, bent at the waist, with my chest touching my knees. Taking in small breaths so as not to bend further, I pray to the sun, ‘Bring back the warmth’. My teeth chatter so hard I think I might grind them to dust. My feet are starting to go numb, if this is numbness, as the circulation is being drawn from my legs. Sharp knife like stabs run up and down my legs and I wish I could rub them away. My fingers twitch but I’m afraid They’ll see me. 

After reaching in and effortlessly yanking me from the water, the man had thrown open the plastic seat. He’d revealed the small storage space beneath it and gestured to me. “Sit. Now.” He growled the words out, barely contained wrath seething just beneath the surface. Small for my age, at six, I was able to fold myself down. My heels brushed the bottom of the boat, the seat of the plastic chair drug into the back of my head. The metal top of the storage box dug grooves into my lower back, causing bruises that will one day save me, us. He’d thrown something on top of the seat. I can’t see what it is but it’s heavy, with every rock of the boat, as we sped toward the dock, the seat digs deeper and deeper into my back.  

Later, no one fetches me from the boat. The ride back to Their home is spent alone, in the wild of the wind, at the mercy of the highway. I wonder if other cars can see me. If they would save me or if they would point with stubby fingers and laugh at the poor little black girl with no hair and a funny accent. If they would say ‘ha-ha, ha-ha, no-body wants-you’ in the singsong voice I often heard on the playground once kids found out I was a foster kid. If they would turn their head away and so as not to see me, just like my brother did. 

Even once we reached Their house, a small off-white building with red borders, no one came to get me. They get out of the truck and escape without me. I had possibly gone to sleep, or maybe I passed out, because it didn’t feel like I’d been in the boat that long. My legs did though. The sharp pricks had come and gone. From the knee down they hung like logs and I couldn’t feel my toes. I tried wiggling them but it was like trudging through mud. I couldn’t tell if they were actually doing anything.

 My brother comes to get me. I hear him clambering into the boat with his bony limbs. He lifts the seat from the clutches of my back, and I look up at him. He had put his shirt back on, it hung just two inches below his belly button and I wanted to laugh. I didn’t know much but I knew that his skin wasn’t supposed to show. He was a boy. Boys didn’t wear cropped tops, their shirts hung like sheets almost to their knees. I stifle the laughter, seeing the way his eyebrows were drawn up and together. His mouth was tight. I’ve seen that face before.

 “I didn’t mean to hurt you,” I say, or whisper, and he nods. Then he sighs. Now, I can’t tell if it’s pity there, or anger, or frustration. I take in a full breath for the first time in what felt like days and flinch. It hurts to breathe, hurts to move, hurts to think. The marks on my legs hurt, I can’t see them, but I feel them burn as I unfold myself. As I put my feet down on the boat and then my little girl weight down on my feet I hiss. My toes won’t move and, as I shuffle across the boat’s floor, I roll my feet from out to in, careful not to add pressure. 

“I’m sorry,” I say as my eyes tear up due to the pain. We carefully climb down from the boat. He nods again but doesn’t turn back to look at me. He leads the way to the house, and I trail behind him on fawn’s legs. 

The door is there before us, the hinges rusted and crooked, the dilapidated wood covered in a chipped bright red paint. I think of the blood from my brother’s back, the blood I’d seen on his fingertips, the blood on my fishing pole’s fleshy prize. It’s an ode to pain, mine, his and Theirs. I wonder if I’ve received my full punishment or if the other side of the door holds more pain. I wonder if the bruises will ever heal or if I will have a permanent mark. I wonder if Rosa, our caseworker, will come to save us this time. If she would come in time. I look at the back of my brother’s head as he slows his gait but stays before me. I wonder if this is when he starts hating me, because I know he will, just like everyone else. 

CNF: Unexpected Love

This is a school assignment. I love, love, LOVE, taking writing courses. Anyway, I’ve never written creative nonfiction before and so here is a piece that I wrote about the night Tony and I first met. It’s my first try at it so don’t ream me just yet!

Let me know what you guys think!

 

 

Creative Nonfiction: Unexpected Love

 

I walked in the door of my favorite writing cafe. It’s walls covered in abstract art, a fake tree stretching up to the dark ceiling, outlets and extension cords scattered around tiny tables.

I remember many hours spent sitting at those tables, laptop out, notebook open, pen ready and cup of coffee getting cold.

Tonight was different. I had another agenda. Ask out the barista I saw on a daily basis. The storybook-prince one with the dark mop of hair, smiling eyes and olive skin. I was so sure, if I actually worked up the courage to ask, that he would say yes.

I looked around at the dimly lit faces, turned toward the stage with wide eyes and listening ears. Music blaring, a sweet twill of an acoustic guitar. Sweet smells of seared chicken paninis, roasted cherry tomatoes and spilled IPA beer; I nearly changed my mind. I had completely forgotten that it was Talent Tuesday, or that it was tuesday at all. I couldn’t turn around, not then, I’d already been spotted by the many faces. Not that they mattered. In the least, I’d gotten dressed up for the occasion; picked my fro big and voluptuous, put on makeup for the first time in months and wore my prettiest dress.

Back then, I’d been an avid wearer of wedges and I had picked my highest pair just for this occasion.

I walked up to the counter, wallet in shaking hands, and gave him my sweetest smile. He looked hairied, apron askew and locks tousled. He took my order quick, jabbing at the buttons on the screen and tilting his head sideways.

“It’s so busy, I’m sorry. We’ll talk later,” he said. I beamed at this, nodded understandingly and turned to claim a seat at the bar.

I swiveled on my chair and made eye contact with a man stepping off stage. Dark brown skin, muscles pulling tight on his shirt, long strong arms. He removed his guitar and smiled at me. I blinked shyly but didn’t want to look around, hoping that smile was for me. And it was. Those eyes twinkled as he wove his way around tables and I couldn’t tell if it was from excitement of the night or the lighting.

“Wow, you are beautiful, and that hair…” he said as he came to stand right in front of me, his grin grew brighter, if that was possible. I blushed.

At first, I thought this was just a line to get me to talk to him but as the years have gone by, I’ve come to realize he just really loves black girls with natural curls. Always with his hands in it, admiring the way it curls when wet and bounces when pulled.

“Thank you,” I forced out, immediately reaching up to fluff the curls around my shoulders. I sat up a bit straighter, shoulders back, spine a little more stiff.

I snuck a look at the barista, hoping he didn’t see me talking to another guy, not wanting to ruin my chances at a date before I’d even asked. He was unbothered, flitting around behind the counter on dancers feet, as he usually did. Graceful, knees slightly bent, quickly bouncing from panini press to counter to press to coffee maker and back to counter again. He called out a name and the girl who stood just in front of him jumped and dashed out a hand as if surprised to hear her own name. I giggled.

“What’s your name?” the man in front of me asked. I turned back to him and was swept up in deep brown eyes, glistening under the bar top light. I attempted to push my shoulders back further, and boobs forward.

“Jade, yours?”

“Tony Frenzy.”

His stage name, I later found out, but I have called him Tony ever since.

We talk for a while over the hum of live music, chatting about life, the cafe and his music set. He tells me about the coincidence of how he was supposed to be at another cafe, playing with his crew and I tell him I was actually supposed to be working but figured the job was a scam, so I quit. We laughed.

We’d talk more about this later.

On my second beer, I fumble the first bottle and it falls off the counter, thankfully to clatter and not shatter. I laugh awkwardly, am I tipsy or just nervous? He smiles at me as I bend to pick up the bottle and he helps to clean up the mess my clumsy hands have made. It’s that icebreaker, tension breaker, we didn’t know we needed.

We stood close, two people, somehow ending up in the same place, at the same time, on accident. It baffles how the night had unfolded. Him, resolving to play a set by himself and me finally stepping out of my box to ask out a cute cafe barista.

“Do you want to go get cheesesteak?” He finally asks. “It’s a bit loud in here and I want to keep talking to you.” The last part he almost whispers and I lean forward either to hear or to get a little bit closer.

My self-preservation has taken a day off and I say yes. I’ve never had cheesesteak before and had no idea what it was. I still wanted to go, wanted to get to know this guy just a bit more. Barista forgotten, I gather my purse, and don’t look back as he leads me to the door.

Into the night with him I went. Into a new life with my soulmate.

 

 

 

Good Readdance,
Jade

College Essay on Life Experience: Miscarriage, Infant Loss and Post Traumatic Grief

Hi all! So I wrote this essay for my Psychology course called Miscarriage, Infant Loss and Post Traumatic Grief for my Psychology class and I thought I would share it with you all. Uncorrected.

In 2015 I got pregnant for the first time. I was due in May 2016. I was so scared but very excited. My guy and I barely knew each other. We were both torn on how we would be parents. I’d always wanted a family of my own I just didn’t know it would happen so soon. In the beginning, I felt great. I was healthy, everything was in the right place; I didn’t have a worry in the world. We decided to stick it through and on Chase and Charlie for boy and girl names. I remember how happy we were, young and exuberant. That was until things began to go wrong. According to the doctors, it would be a waiting game. There was nothing we could do. There was nothing they could do. We had to wait and see what my body, what the baby, wanted to do. I’ve never been good with patience. I tried. I called myself strong. I called myself a warrior. I tried to get through everything with a positive outlook. It didn’t work. My optimism did me no good. Everything began to fall apart. I officially lost my baby on October 23, 2015 at 12 weeks. The pain brought Tony and I closer together. He stayed in the hospital with me, took care of me, and watched over me while I cried my heart out.

In January, 2017, I found out I was pregnant again. My due date was October 23, 2017. The same exact date I’d lost two years before. This couldn’t be a coincidence! We were overjoyed. By this time, we were deeply in love. We’d moved in together, had great jobs and could afford to take care of a child. We already had money saved and we were ready to take on this new adventure. My doctors told me that it was very common for women to lose their first pregnancy and that I really had nothing to worry about. Everything, again, looked great, healthy and in the right place. At 11 weeks, we now know, I lost my mucus plug. At 15 weeks my water broke. I rushed to the hospital and they confirmed it. Our little happy, healthy baby was without fluid. They suggested I terminate. I couldn’t believe they wanted me to get rid of my baby when I could see her there on the screen. She had a great heartbeat, was moving just as much as she should and seemed fine. They told me that if I stayed pregnant I could get an infection and that the baby would die anyway. The doctors said the infection could get so bad that they would have to do a hysterectomy. I knew that couldn’t be my only option and pressed for something else. Something that could help us, help her. The doctors said that there was one thing we could do only if we make it to 24 weeks, which she strongly said I wouldn’t. If I made it to 24 weeks I would get antibiotics and shots, then I would live at the hospital, on bed rest, for the rest of my pregnancy. That would be 4 months. She did say that my body could take the choice out of my hands. That I could delivery naturally and they wouldn’t be able to stop it but if I didn’t, she might have a chance to live.

I jumped on it. I could do it! I had an office job and so I was determined to stay as still as possible, drink as much water as possible, to replenish her fluid faster than it was leaking, and to war against infection. I made it to 19 weeks. I went into labor naturally, just like they warned. I was on my way to work when the contractions started. At first, I thought they were just false contractions and I clocked in and started working. It’s silly to think about now but I really sat at my desk and tried to rock through the pain. I’d never been through labor before! Finally an older coworker told me to rush to the hospital because I was about to have the baby. I cried my eyes out. I called my guy and told him to meet me at Winnie Palmer and left. Iris Giana was born at 3:15pm that day. It was the most beautiful, terrifying, amazingly traumatic moment I’ve ever had in my life. Seeing her there, on my chest, with her tiny feet, moving her tiny hands. I couldn’t believe that I’d actually given birth to a human and that I couldn’t keep her. She was perfect in every way and yet, she wasn’t big enough to survive on her own.

One of the most disheartening things about it all is that I couldn’t even be with her in her last moments. I almost died from blood loss, the placenta got stuck, and they had to rush me to surgery. I held her for as long as I could but the pain was just too much. They had to take her from me. Knowing that the next time I saw her she would be dead made my physical pain so much worse. I could deal with the fire in my belly, with the sharp stabbing going down my sides but I couldn’t deal with seeing them take her away and knowing I couldn’t say goodbye. I remember telling her I loved her so many times. Wanting her to know it wasn’t in vain. That she meant something to me. To us.

In the beginning, it was hard for me to see my guy being happy or experiencing life without being as sad or distraught as I was. American Pregnancystates “Generally, women are more expressive about their loss and more likely to seek support from others.” This was very true for us. He was very quiet about everything. I didn’t really see the grief from him until a few months later. “I was only a dad for 30 minutes” he randomly said to me one night. It hurt my heart and I cried for days. I couldn’t handle being a source of pain for him and knowing there was nothing I could physically do to make it better.

In 2018 I found out I was pregnant, again. Again, we were excited. This will be the time! We have a plan. My doctors have a plan. Just get to 12 weeks, they said, then we can put in a cerclage and start you on shots to protect the baby. It would finally work. It was another miracle. This definitely can’t be a coincidence, I remember saying. I was due October 23, 2018. The same exact date as the pregnancy from the year before and the loss from 2015. This is a sign from the gods. I got to 9 weeks and then the bleeding started. I rushed to the hospital. “Save my baby, please!” I remember telling them, but there was nothing they could do. She was already gone. No heartbeat. They had no reasoning, couldn’t see anything wrong with her or with me. She was just gone.

I’ve had so many experiences with grief in my life. I’m a foster kid with mom issues, twice over, and at one point I had no hope. I had no direction but I kept going. I pushed forward. I graduated high school. I got a job, sometimes two or three at a time. I took care of myself despite feeling helpless and unwanted and unloved. I beat the odds and the statistics. I did it! I thought the pain and anger and disappointment was finally over. Despite all of this ‘achieving’ I’d done, nothing, nothing could prepare me for this. I wanted to give up. I wanted to float away and not deal with the pain of my losses. The love in my soul that I feel for them every day. The tug that is telling me this will never work. Still, months after my most recent loss, I don’t know if I’m healed. I don’t know if I ever will be.

In Krosch’s study, they asked questions of women who have lost babies at varying stages of pregnancy, women who have had multiple miscarriages and also talked to women who had living children outside of their losses. “The “other children” comparisons indicated that women who did not have living children tended to experience moderately higher grief scores than those who had children after the loss.“ (Krosch) I can attest to this because I am one. For me, I believe the added fear, the added stress, is that I might not ever be able to have children. I believe that I would be distraught, after my losses, if I had children as well but the simple fact that I’ve had three very different losses and none of them give us any indication as to what is wrong or how we might be able to prevent it from happening in the future makes this a stressful situation. I don’t want to think of the possibility that I do all the tests, all the exams, spend all the money for the expensive health insurance and I will find that I can never carry. So I can definitely see how not having other children would give me a higher score on the grief scale.

Another thing that I found interesting about Krosch’s study is the factor they believed religion, or spiritual beliefs, took in growth, post traumatic grief and life after loss. “The greatest PTG was reported in appreciation of life, personal strength, and relating to others domains, and least in spiritual growth. The findings of limited spiritual growth are consistent with previous research in non-North American populations (e.g., T. Weiss & Berger, 2010), but may also be influenced by pregnancy loss-specific factors. Although some people tend toward spiritual understandings following perinatal loss, others report a marked departure (Cowchock, Lasker, Toedter, Skumanich, & Koenig, 2010). This suggests that some people’s spiritual beliefs may provide a framework for understanding the loss, while others’ beliefs may be rendered inadequate.” (Krosch) For me, I believe I was more on the side that says it made a huge impact in my recovering but not in the way it did for most of the women. The ones who ‘gained’ more faith in god or in religion may have said it impacted them greatly or that they felt closer. I, however, felt the exact opposite. There has never been a bigger divide between myself and god than there is now, after he has captured my joy and crushed it beneath his foot.
As a young child, growing up in foster care, I was impressionable in the sense that if something was strongly explained and sounded ‘amazing’ I might be keen to believe it. Christianity was that for me. My adopted parents were both pastors during my youth. They taught and they preached and they took us to church every single week. Some weeks we went to church three and four times. I was very autonomous as a kid and wanted to find my own relationship with god, not one forced on me. Once I did, I loved it. I loved the atmosphere, I loved the support, I loved the fact that I had consistent people in my life who seemed to actually care about my well-being; I also loved the drama. Of course. I grew up with a strong sense of right and wrong but also the importance of the grey area. I often playfully say, that back when I was 12, I was a Jesus freak. I wanted everyone to give their souls and live peaceful lives. That’s just to show how the dynamic role of religion played in my life as a kid and how it’s changed. I am no longer that way. After my first loss I was very angry. I was mad at everyone; my guy for not understanding, my mom for not helping me, my friends for never reaching out, my god for not delivering me from my pain. I still loved him, I still trusted him with my soul. I knew my heart was in safe hands. After my second loss I screamed at the heavens; “How could you do this to me? How could you cause me this much pain? What have I done to deserve this? Am I that evil of a human being?” (I will never forget the words my biological mother said to me after my water broke and I was terrified my little girl would die; “god will always take your babies because you are evil on the inside. Your soul is evil. I hope you lose your baby.”) After my third loss, March 2018, I screamed again but this time in resignation. I screamed inside with self-doubt, pity and resolution. That follows in line with Lin’s explanation of chronic grief. “These symptoms can be excessive anger, guilt and self-blame, or persistent depression, and they make resolution and adaptation difficult. With chronic grief, there is little or no sign of diminution of intense reaction a year or more after the loss.” (Lin)

So yes, I screamed out with a shaking fist. I screamed outin silence of my own mind. I said “I get it, god! You don’t want me to have children! What? Do you think I will be a bad mother? Have I not proved that I have so much love to give? Have I not proved that I will not take on the sins of my adopted mother and my mother’s mother and my mother’s mother beyond that?” That is the difference between those women and me. They found a deeper faith, something they could hold on to, and I wish I could say the same. For me, I had lost all trust in god. I believe in him, I don’t think that will ever stop. My foundation is just too strong. I just no longer believe that I can trust him. I can no longer trust him with my heart, my soul, my dreams and my future. As someone who always used god as the answer or someone who will help propel me into the future even thinking that feels as dark as midnight.

This topic is always hard for me but I love to share it with others. I am no longer ashamed of what I’ve been through. I am no longer scared to think other people, other women, will look down on me and think I am less of a woman. I am strong, I always will be. I want to help other women who are going through what I’ve been through to be as strong as I. That’s why I’m writing a book about miscarriage awareness, loss and grief from an angel mom’s perspective. I have complied submissions from women all around the world and I plan to use their stories, their soul specific paths to draw in those who feel alone. My heart goes out to anyone who has experienced this and even those who are dealing with infertility but maybe haven’t experienced an actual loss. I just want to pour out compassion, awareness, love, understanding and, in the end, hope.
Thank you for reading my uncorrected essay!

Jade

References

Krosch, D. J., & Shakespeare-Finch, J. (2017). Grief, traumatic stress, and posttraumatic growth in women who have experienced pregnancy loss. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, And Policy, 9(4), 425-433. doi:10.1037/tra0000183

Lin, S. X., & Lasker, J. N. (1996). Patterns of grief reaction after pregnancy loss. American Journal Of Orthopsychiatry, 66(2), 262-271. doi:10.1037/h0080177

“After A Miscarriage: Surviving Emotionally.” American Pregnancy. American Pregnancy Association. 29 December 2017. Web. 2 July 2018.

Link to Miscarriage: Surviving Emotionally

African American Literacy and the “A.A. Community” Page

Heya,

As an African American writer I’ve realized just how much I need to portray ‘us’ as we want to be seen, need to be seen, in all of my books. I am dedicating a category to Black Authors because I want to lift up my community and support them in anyway that I can. Awareness is a great way to do so.

One of the first things I plan to highlight in this tab are black owned bookstores. It is important for black people to be given the gift of reading. Historically, it’s not something we are supposed to do. It’s a different day and age now. We have a chance to rise up and become better than we were. Catering to communities without reading and writing materials should be a priority. We should have every opportunity available to enhance our minds, souls and to educate ourselves. This isn’t something we can expect to be given to us. As current standards show, we must do it in our own communities.

That being said, we also have to use the resources given to us. Them being there for us to take is not enough! If we are given a bookstore but we never go in…how does that help us? If we are given a safe place to read and to enjoy the company of other scholars but we defile it, trash it and destroy its sanctuary…how does that inspire other would-be black business owners? Please share your thoughts on this. Comment what you think is the best way to help with literacy in the African American Community.

So keep watch of the “African American Community” page! If you want to support a black author or find a black owned bookstore follow the blog and hit this tab! I’ll be updating soon!

If you’ve read any books by black authors lately that you really enjoyed, feel free to write them in the comments below! Send me a link! Share the love! I’m always looking for great suggestions and plan to keep this tab up to date with new posts.
Happy Readdance,
Jade

6 Steps to Love Reading

You may think that this is a silly title or even a silly topic but it’s important!

I think that a lot of people just don’t ‘get’ it. They can’t figure out what is so appealing about curling in bed with a good book. That doesn’t mean they don’t want to read, they just probably never enjoyed it on their own sooo…they don’t. Well, I can help!  Hopefully. I want to give you a few tips of my own that have really helped me and others glean the most they can from reading.

1. Find a Genre You Like!

You might think this is a no-brainer but it’s not. With so many people telling others what you ‘should’ read or what is ‘posh’ to read, it can be daunting for someone who is just starting to pick up books for pleasure. Think of movies or TV shows that make you happy. Do you enjoy ones that are scifi? Like Fringe or Doctor Who? Are you a psychological thriller kind of person? Dexter, Mr. Robot, Black Mirror? Are you a fan of the cutesy shows or romance filled hour long love fest? Hart of Dixie, 90210, Bones, Gossip Girl, etc? Looking at what you like to watch can definitely help you figure out what you like to read. Then research or go to that section in your local library or bookstore and pick something up! Read the flap!
2. Don’t Finish If You Hate It!

I know, I know. Tons of people think that not finishing a book is so taboo but I don’t! I currently have 250 books in my TBR (to be read) pile and that’s just physical books that I own. Not E-Books. Not library books. Not books in the queue. I don’t have time for that. Ain’t nobody got time for that! I do try to give a book a few chapters before I throw it against the wall but I definitely won’t torture myself further if I can barely get past a paragraph without dying inside. That being said, if a book is suggested to me (via a book club, blog request, etc) I will definitely stick with it longer than normal. I want to give everything a fair deal. But I’m an aficionado at this, don’t try this at home kids! It can be discouraging if you find yourself unable to get into a book or if it takes months to get through it.

3. Buy Books!

Now, I’m not sponsored, as much as I would love to be, but amazon and half priced bookstores are your best friend. I say actually buy your books because you are more likely to read them, in my opinion, than if you grabbed it from the library or borrowed from a friend. As a borrower, you are under pressure to finish quickly (heehee) and return it in mint condition. I always try to take the best care of my books but if I carry a book everywhere, because it is so good, and end up accidentally dropping it in the dirt, that’s only on me. No fines accrued. And I’d still read it.

4. Start Small!

Don’t think that you have to burst out of the gate with a 1100 page monstrosity of Stephen King’s or a hard read with emphasis on philosophical imagery, blah, blah, blah. Start with something short, something innocent. Start with a light hearted novel. I’d say even start with a YA, anything to ease yourself in. If you are a ‘take the leap’ type then go ahead and ignore everything in this section. Go forth, you over achiever you, Mary Higgins Clark awaits you.
5. Discover You Neeeeds!

Why did you decide to start reading more? Are you trying to better yourself? Are you wanting to see what all this book hubbub is all about? Are you trying to teach yourself about a specific subject? I think this is important because at least now you know what types of books you are looking for and won’t stress yourself out. Meaning, if you are wanting to read about demons and warriors and bloody battles, picking up a book on the children in the attic won’t appeal to you.

6. Change It Up! 

This is sort of a continuance and contradiction to number 5 and number 1! So this one is just for fun. As a kid, I was obsessed with romance and love and rainbows and historical and and and… It wasn’t until I graduated high school that I began to really broaden my horizons. By dipping into other genres or randomly buying books without vetting them, I then discovered how much I love mystery, psychological thrillers, witty banter, spy novels and even some non-fiction (woa what?).

So, if you are looking to get into the world of nerdiness I hope that I’ve helped you take the next step. Below I will share with you some authors, and their genres, that I really enjoy!

 

 

Julie Garwood- Romance and Mystery romance

Lynsay Sands- Paranormal Romance, historical romance, romance romance!
Tina Wainscott- mystery romance

Nora Roberts- Formula Romance
James Patterson- Psychological, mystery, procedural, etc. (He also writes YA)
Mary Higgins Clark- Mystery! Crime!

Nora Roberts, John Grisham, Ray Bradbury, George Orwell, Cindy Gerard, Gena Showalter, Iris Johansen!

 

Happy Readdance,

Jade

P.S. If you have any other tips you’d like to share with other readers, let me know in the comments! Did any of these help you? What are you going to read next?

We Should Teach Creative Writing in Schools

This is a long one, so buckle up. (or in, or down, or whatever). Get ready. Stay for the ride, maybe you’ll learn something. Maybe you’ll…just pretend you did. Hehe.

It actually surprises me that this isn’t something we already do. I mean, yes, in the times of the past maybe ‘we’ thought that this was ‘all just woo-woo stuff’ that we were giving into. For some reason ‘we’ thought that encouraging our children to open their minds and believe in things that didn’t exist meant that we were not being good parents. It meant that we weren’t preparing them for the “real” world where things are hard, and tough, and fierce, and angry and streets were dirty. It was like we thought that we couldn’t allow them to fly free and they wouldn’t see the world around them. It was as if we never used our imagination to help develop who we became.

It’s widely known that ‘we’ believe you lose your ‘inner child’ when you get older. Only thing is…you don’t lose it, it’s suppressed, stolen, beaten and trampled by adults who constantly say “that’s not real” or “that would never actually happen” or “life isn’t so happy” or even “wake up!”. Yes, at some point we do need to have a discussion of this sort but we always fail to realize that children are smarter than we think they are.

How did we forget that when we were kids ourselves we had imaginary friends and we poured fake tea and we danced circles in frilly dresses or chomped wood with plastic saws? We knew we weren’t drinking anything. We knew we weren’t princesses or construction workers or true magicians. We just didn’t care. At some point, after the suppression of our passion we cross from being a “knowing someone who enjoys” to “a person who is unknowing, dying and actively disliking everything”.

Break here for a deep breath.
Okay, Go.

Well, I’m going to tell you a small story as to how my own experiences with school and writing and creating my own worlds changed my life. Then I’m going to share with you a few bits from others that I found while doing research for speech class. Yes, they will be credited and citations will be below. Far below. Don’t worry, I did my homework and I actually enjoyed it. Ha! These are the friends that I spoke of in the title, that are not really friends. Just those more qualified than me to talk about the subject of child development and the need for play acting in the kiddos.

When I was about 7 I wrote my first story. I wrote it down on crumpled paper and it took me forever to do it. At the time, I thought I was writing a book, which makes me laugh inside as it was only about 4 to 5 pages. It was about a dog and a cat that truly loved each other. They played all day and all night and everything was just perfect. It was all just perfect until the dog died. The cat was sad, it’s best friend was gone. What was the cat to do? It moped and cried. At the end of the “book” the dog came back to life and the cat was happy! THE END!

No really, that was the end. I was so proud of myself. My heart was full. I couldn’t believe it. I’d written a book! Immediately I turned around and went to my mother. Read it! Read it! I was so excited. She read it and I sat there with twiddling fingers and tapping feet. And then there was the Look. You know, the one someone gives you when they know you want good news but all they have is bad news and they want to let you down softly. That one.

“Umm…this would never happen,” she starts. She proceeded to tell me about how cats and dogs are never friends, how they don’t experience feelings of love and loss the way we do, and how once something dies it can’t come back to life. That’s JUST the way the world works! At first, I was broken. Then, I was angry. I was so defensive and offended. I can do anything I want with my story! I wrote it. It was my book and no one could tell me what to do with my book.

And that is how I knew I wanted to be a writer. For the next ten years I continued to write stories about opposing characters and things that ‘could never actually happen’. During this time, I didn’t let my mother read anything that I’d written. I couldn’t let her stop me from becoming a god to my characters and have their fearful bodies shaking in their boots. Couldn’t have her telling me I couldn’t resurrect my Lazarus and keep his humanity to fall in love with some chick with mousy brown hair and a big obsession with finger blades!

But it wasn’t just her, when I was a young troubled girl trying to make it through the ins and outs of my foster home I wrote like crazy. I filled composition notebook after composition notebook of character ideas and story arcs and I read as much as I could. Books of all genres were fodder for my tiny fast fingers and I soaked in as much of their imagery and filth as I could. Only to spew it back out in the form of inspiration and child like ambitions.

Ok, that just went on an odd tangent but you get the point. I didn’t even get to the part I was trying to say. I loved it and it changed my life. I had a teacher in the fourth grade who gave in to my childish wants and desires. She suggested so many books to me I can’t even remember them all. She said ‘one day you will grow up and be a writer’. From her I got Melusine, Summer of my German Soldier and the original readings of The Giver. She told me I was reading and writing on a high school level and she was impressed with me. Blah, blah, blah. Of course, at that time I didn’t care about all of that. I just wanted to write.

Then in eight grade, and I’ll never forget, Mr Vincent Potts awarded me with an English plaque at the end of the school year. It was my first time back in school with the ‘norms’, meaning I was no longer in the private school that had fostered my introverted nerdiness. He would read my writings and give me real feedback. He, too, told me that I would one day become a great writer. This was at the time when things were confusing, I didn’t believe him and yet I did.

I had an english teacher in high school that was mean as hell. To everyone else. Or at least that’s what I remember them saying. All the time. I loved her. She was great. I made my first friend in that class. I wrote a book complete from beginning to end at her request. She pushed me and pushed me and I knew, one day I would be a writer. And I am. *Mild shoulder shrug while throwing up in my mouth a little*

So that was me.

Now, from my fake friends I gleaned that this actually has an effect on children that should not be ignored. Not just expanding the mind by writing down things you create from your own imaginations but also pretending that there are things before you that aren’t there. No, not crazy speak, just childhood word vomit and seeing spies in sky.

“Imagination is more important than knowledge” -Einstein. Okay, okay. I apologize for this one but we all know it. We know how important imagination, excitement and intriguing mystery is. We learn this from ‘woman is a grinch at Christmas’ or ‘CEO learns to love’ movies that we all watch as adults to make us think that rich people aren’t happy or sit around all day without an ounce of make believe.

Another… There are benefits to pretend play that involves “fantasy, make-believe, symbolism, organization, cognitive integration, and divergent thinking; it allows the expression of both positive and negative feelings” from Psychologist Sandra Russ*. This is one we also know. When you are allowed to create, to push the envelope back and forth, to bend the rules and then punish your characters for breaking them, you get to experience both sides of things. You allow yourself, and readers, to learn the consequences of life and how to react to betrayal, anger, excitement, the works.

Dr. Catherine Neilsen’s voice on enhancing the imagination and it’s effects through to adulthood can be reduced to 5 reasons as to why creativity is important. I’m just going to list these and put my summaries of each because…that article is long and I read it myself and gleaned what I could so you don’t have to. Here*:

  1. Social development- learning cooperation and compromise with friends! Yay!
  2. Language development- expanding vocabulary and understanding inflection.
  3. Emotional development- positive and negative feelings and working through things in a ‘made up’ world! Whoop! Becoming a god with a conscious!
  4. Physical development- using physical tools help with expression and muscle development. Writing! Typing! Wooden swords and play tea sets!
  5. Thinking skills- Children think in magical ways and use their imagination to stretch their minds. -and develop their own thoughts and personalities despite the adults proverbial sodomizings! (yes, I made that plural…and?)

So there you have it. We should teach creative writing in schools. I daresay we should. I say we go for it and we teach them what their mind can do, what it can create. You know…this might just work out for us in the end. (See above 5 ways). We MIGHT just get some decent human beings that are accepting of others (skin color, orientation, freaking accents (personally speaking here) and family situations). We MAY just come across an entire generation of people who want to think up all the mighty things they can do and actually DO them.

So many people say that focusing on the false and on creative writing is a waste of time and there are so many ‘more productive’ things we can teach children but I disagree. I believe that by encouraging them to be themselves, see their invisible friends and more we are actually setting them free. I believe that if we taught our children how to deal with their thoughts, use their own imagination to build worlds and as coping mechanisms, they would be better human beings and the earth would be a better place.
But that’s just me. A girl who dreamed she’d one day be a writer. Who took a few detours until she realized her dream was within reach. Who decided…hey! It will happen because I dreamed it so and now…I’ve done the work to do so.

So…let me know what you think below. Do you agree? Has creative writing effected you? Would you like to be a writer but never thought you could? Do you think that encouraging creativity and play acting in children can really cause them to become better humans beings? Tell me!

Happy Lifeness,
Jade

References:

  1. Wallace-Segall, Rebecca. “Plea for Creative Writing in Schools”. The Atlantic.com. The Atlantic Monthly Group. 4, Oct, 2012. 2018. https://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2012/10/a-passionate-unapologetic-plea-for-creative-writing-in-schools/263212/
  2. Suckerman, Simone. “5 Benefits of Imaginative Play”. LivingandLoving.co.za. Living and Loving Magazine. 3 August. 2017. 2018. https://www.livingandloving.co.za/child/5-benefits-of-imaginative-play

Modernizing Required Readings for Students

Heya!

So I have been thinking long and hard about what I want to achieve in the world of literature. My want to go back to college and finish my degree was more about accomplishing my own goals and learning new things. I hadn’t yet figured out what I wanted to do with my degree, specifically, besides writing bestsellers. I’ve even played with the idea of getting my Master’s or becoming a Professor but those are ideas that I have romanticized since I was a child. Things that I hoped I could achieve under the label of personal success. I’ve been reading, writing books and creating new stories since I was a young child, since before I could remember. Despite my detours in life, I always knew this is where I would land.

To translate that into academics, I want to delve deeper into the literary requirements of our youth. I remember being a young girl, inspired by big works like Shakespeare and George Orwell and also the smaller works like Summer of my German Soldier (Bette Greene) and Melusine. I always found it fascinating to read works by authors who lived long ago but realized that my fellow classmates did not. They were disinterested, flighty and annoyed. This made me really think about the works that were required and what I could do to make reading more appealing to those who would balk at the idea normally.

So I’ve realized the best way to go about this, as so far thought, is to modernize our required readings. I am a firm believer that the best writers weren’t only born 200 plus years ago. Yes, we can learn great things from our past but we can also learn a multitude of things from the present. We have hundreds of amazing writers here in this century and we need to recognize them. Do not take this as I am wanting to replace the genius works of the past. I want to give an alternative modernized literary option for teaching those students who squirm and fuss at the thought of reading outside of a text message. These are students who naturally hate reading. I want them to be able to pick up a book they can relate to and learn the same skills of tension, mystery and cultural appreciation.

Once I embark on this journey I am going to compile a list of required readings and find comparisons in the modern world of literature. I want to develop a list of books that will still teach life lessons, broaden horizons and open the minds of our youth. I will be blogging my path with this and will eventually make a static post of the comparisons that I’ve done so that you guys are updated!

I would really like some suggestions that could help me on this journey. I found a really great list on GoodReads but it’s 500 books long! That’s a great start and I will be breaking them apart, following a specific criteria, and choosing the ones I think can really transform literature. If you’ve read a modern or contemporary book that you think could rival the literature of old please feel free to let me know! Also, tell me the book that you think it parallels. This is going to be a great journey!

P.S. To make a clear distinction, I am talking about new and original stories; plays and novels written now, not revisions or rewrites of old ones.

Good Readance,

Jade

The Ring of Gyges (Glaucon.Plato): Justice as a Constitution

Would you rather do injustice but appear just or be just and appear unjust?

Think of the last time you went to a club. Imagine earlier in the day you met someone exciting and you hit it off with them, possibly exchanged contact information. That night, while out with your friends, you’re waiting in a long line. Two out, Two in (we all know how this goes). Suddenly, your new friend shows up and says ‘Oye! How are ya?‘ and, as a VIP guest of the club, they invite you to skip the line and join them inside. Do you? Everyone else stares back at you, standing still with wide eyes, sucking their teeth in jealousy. Your friends glance down at their feet, unsure if they are included in the invite. Do you leave them behind? Ask if their invited? Decline and stay with your friends?

Now think if you came to the club alone (Hey! maybe you’re the type) and you are standing at the end of the line. What if he’d caught up to you before you joined the line of onlookers? Do you sneak off and join him in the club? When no one would see you accept the offer, when there is no one to judge your decision, would you really decline?

For those who are more pious, that don’t frequent clubs like the rest of us, say you are trying to get accepted for a prestigious internship that will shape how quickly you move up in your career. You just so happen to be the niece (nephew) of someone on the board. They say they will put in a good word for you, write you a reference letter, donate money and set up a meeting with the Chair. You have the talent, skills and maybe a leg up, due to your own determination, working for you. You don’t really need his help. Do you do this on your own? Do you decline his offer (save for the required reference) and see how the board votes without the incentive?

Think of the opposite, when you could really use his help. Maybe your final essay wasn’t as strong as you would’ve liked. Maybe you weren’t as memorable during the last introductions.  Maybe you wouldn’t normally deserve the spot, just based on your performance. None of the other candidates would know. Do you accept his offer to get put at the top of the list? Would you risk your dreams for the sake of justice?

Glaucon talks about two important factors when discussing our willingness to do justice: Law and Appearance.  When law is not a factor, most people would do injustice. Why do you think The Purge was so popular? Looting during riots? Cheating on tests when the teacher steps out of the room? When there is no one there to hold you accountable for your actions, you act. Some say, you act out of character but if your actions are your own wouldn’t this show who you truly are? Aren’t you unjust on the inside just like the rest of us? Would injustice be apart of your constitution, a part that you hide?

Appearance wouldn’t be important if not for our judgy parents, coworkers who raise their eyebrow at favoritism or fellow customers you might cut in line. If we, as humans, weren’t so worried about how others perceive us or how we appear to others, we would all do injustice. Glaucon says that one only needs to appear just than to actually be just.

The story of The Ring of Gyges talks about a seemingly just person. A Shepherd discovers a ring of invisibility, which he initially tests on his friends. He then uses it to seduce the Queen, kill the King and take over the throne.
I remember a story told to me as a kid that has really stuck with me, I’ll tell it to you though you might’ve heard it before. An old man wanted to renovate two bathrooms in his home. Due to old age, and a previous knee injury, he is unable to finish cleaning residue and grime from the marble tile in the second. He calls for his grandson to help. “Please, have this done before the party tonight, even though this one often goes unused, I’d like to finish the project.” The grandson agrees and the old man goes about his day preparing.

A few hours before the party, the old man goes to check on the boy and opens the door, glancing at the tile before him. From this vantage point it’s beautifully polished and shines in the light. As he steps in to inspect it, he realizes the boy didn’t finish any of the tile hidden behind the door. “What is this?” he says. “Why have you not finished?
“No one ever uses this bathroom, grandpa. We can finish it later! I can help you with something more important.” The old man puts a hand on his shoulder, looks him straight in the eye.
“We must do things correctly, finish the tasks at hand, even if no one else will see it. That is no matter how big or how small, how important or insignificant the task is.” Reluctantly, the boy finished the tile just moments before the first arrival. Later that night, a toilet malfunction in the first bathroom rendered it useless and all the guest had to be redirected to the second bathroom. As guest complemented the beautiful marble the old man silently caught the eye of the young boy, who grinned back with pride.

Yes, this is very, very, very cheesy but it perfectly explains my point and the direction I took from The Ring of Gyges. The question stands. Would you do injustice if not for law and appearance? If not, are you including small injustices that we do daily? As stated in the reading, one can not be fully just without any injustice. Can they?

I plan to continue uploading my thoughts and inferences of the readings I get while in college. Let me know if you’d like to see more of these or if you are a fiction and novel reader only. I’d love to hear from you!

Good Readdance!

Jade