every darkened well

Monday, May 28, 2012

It's not Saturday, but at least I'm posting at all, so be glad. :) But anyway, happy Memorial Day to you all out there, and I hope you had a good one. 

Just a little side note, though: I remembered that this Friday, the day I was going to have a monthly guest post, is actually June 1st, but that guest post will be on June anyway. 

On to the poetry...I wrote this poem from an exercise out of a wonderful poetry book, and the first two lines are those of an Edna St. Vincent Millay poem. I had never read the poem, and it was actually about the turning of the seasons, but this is what happened with mine, called "Every Darkened Well".


I cannot but remember
When the year grows old
It seems so long ago
And I cannot but unfold

The lovely little poems, which
When written, called with joy
To me to come and be their queen
And so I was employed

For so long as to my wish
When the poems softly fell
From every ink-stained fingertip
Down to every darkened well

And now my eyes are losing
The spark they once possessed
And my singing speech becomes
One of absentmindedness

But tell me, please, what do you see
When you look upon me so?
Do you see the wondrous woman
Or someone you don’t know?

Oh, say the former, dear, and write me in
As nothing but myself
Lest I begin to lose my ways
And you shall lose yourself

For I cannot but remember
When the year grows old
The little details of my life
And the poems I once told

The ones about my being queen
The ones that softly fell
From every ink-stained fingertip
Down to every darkened well

soft

Thursday, May 24, 2012

*Sorry I missed last Saturday, but in my defense I have been terribly, awfully, almost aneurism-ly busy with school. It's the end of middle school, and I have a project or report or something in every single subject. Don't get me started. Anyway, I would have missed today, too, except I didn't want to miss two days in a row, so here's a poem I wrote a while ago called Soft.*


Soft

as cashmere
wrapped
carefully
perfectly
round my delicate frame.

as sunlight
burning holes
into every eye
flames licking
each perfect
ruby
mouth.

as snow
falling
every so gently
frigid
in the warm
shivering air.

as a summer day
the breeze catching
our smiles
and molding them
into those
of delight.

as stars
woven moonbeams
of hope and dreams
and all the things
we wish
will come
but never
do.

as a heavy quilt
bundled up
and around
and everywhere
flickering in the light
from the glowing fire.

as light
draped over light
little bits of memory
reflecting from mirror
to mirror.

as secrets
bound and checked
typed with precision
sent away
to be locked up
tight.

as lies
painful
growing ever so slightly
bigger
and bigger
until they burst.

as promises
gleaming and shining
rippling in the
possibilities
they create.

as love
so perfect
so terrible
so clichéd and normal
so every day
so beautiful
the one thing
worth living
and dying
for.

thanks, ingrid

Thursday, May 17, 2012

I don't know if any of you remember Ingrid Michaelson, but on Monday night, I went to go see her at the Egg in Albany. I didn't take any videos, but I found these not-very-good-quality-that-doesn't-do-justice-to-the-live-show clips form the performance on YouTube. 




Needless to say, even shown in these bad quality videos, she was incredible. There was something amazing about seeing my favorite artist, my idol, perform live, something nerve wracking and exciting and blissful. I wondered, and wrung my hands and hoped and wondered some more, but I had no idea what she would be like on stage. She was everything I expected her to be—funny, quirky, beautiful, and so talented I thought my cheeks would crack from smiling. I was pretty happy, if you get the picture. :)—and then, she was even more. She was hilarious, and spontaneous, completely comfortable on stage, and such an amazing performer, songwriter, and artist that it just blew me away. I sang along to every lyric, danced to every song, screamed and clapped and cheered. I feel different now, more alive, I think. 


I know this is cliché, but sometimes life is full of clichés, and going to that show changed me for the better. Watching my idol, the person I want to be just like someday, perform, gave me an entire world that I never saw before, an opportunity to just be in the moment and happy and, for a second, live my dream. 

Thanks, Ingrid. 


 Now, how about you...is there anyone out there reading? What experience recently changed you for the better? How? Okay, I sound like an English teacher. You don't have to answer it. Just be happy that whatever happened happened.


Oh, and also, feel free to sing Kumbaya. Or Ghost. :)

the change

Sunday, May 13, 2012

*Again, please pretend this is Saturday. There won't be a Thursday post this week, because I was sick Thursday and I'm not going to rush around to make up for one post I missed, so there's just this Saturday (Sunday) post, featuring a short story.*


The sun is setting on the other side of the window, its burning light calling out to me. I open the door carefully; my hand shivers against the new chill of the doorknob. Outside, there is a snap to the air—something crisp and real and grounding. A soft, cold breeze licks my cheeks and bites at my stinging, watering eyes. I take care to wipe all traces of tears away quickly, hoping no one sees the momentary Change.

Grinning almost in spite of myself, I close the door quietly, not wanting anyone to hear. I’d rather that Violet and May don’t come out here, rather that they not see me.

The wood beneath my feet is cool and damp; the porch’s overhang didn’t keep the rain from soaking the boards. I hesitate, biting my lip, but decide to sit. No one will see. I crouch down, the puddles soaking through my socks, and find a relatively dry spot. Once down, I draw my legs up to my chest and hug them, resting my chin on the tips of my knees and staring out into the pink sky, cloudy and gleaming. The sun seems to have left behind little parts of itself, little bits that it will collect later, after we’ve all gone to sleep and there’s no one to watch the moon throw each wisp of sunshine down, down, down, and sow the stars into the sky.

I smile wistfully, and begin to let the change overcome me. No one will see, I whisper to myself. No one.

It begins at my toes—it always has, no matter where I get wet. My socks become tight and uncomfortable as my feet stretch, widen, thin, begin to grow scales and turn a shimmering green. The scales travel up my legs, up and up and up. I will myself to keep changing, and all around me my clothes become rough and cumbersome. I stop the scales at my hands, open to the world, and my neck, only letting the little things through. The bluish tint to my skin, the shiny teal of my fingernails, the glimmering roughness on my palms, the back of my neck, the little creases of my face. Little scales pop up around my eyes, barely noticeable, and my irises’ dark brown color shimmies in and out of blue-gray as my eyelashes lengthen and turn the lightest shade of green. I even allow the tips of my hair to become slightly emerald.

I am Changing, and nobody knows.

Nobody knows.

Nobody knows. 


***

The Change is a right of passage. the Change is the Mer.  
It will come only to those whom art worthy. Worthy of the costs & the hardshippes.
Be careful. Do not flaunt thy scales, lest Humans know of the Mer. 
By Death, tell not a soul thy secret. 

***

The light of the sea is dark and light, hot and cold, welcoming and terrifying all at once. I don’t know what to make of it. I think I love it, but I’m not sure. I think so. I think not.

I don’t know what to think.

Maybe I love Nadia. Maybe that’s it. Is that why my brain is in a muddle? I think I love Nadia. I think so. I think not.
   
I can’t love her. I love Clare. I love Clare. But she’s gone. She’s missing.
   
Is loving Clare’s best friend so wrong? Can I still love her? Do I love Clare anymore?

I don’t know.

I dip my finger into the water and swirl it around, thinking about Nadia. Thinking about the way her eyes turned from dark brown to blue gray, the way her eyelashes lengthened and flickered into a silver-green.

I don’t know what to think.

She’s so beautiful, so perfect, so mysterious. I wonder if I know why.

Maybe she’s like you, a little part of me whispers. Maybe she—changes.

There’s no one like you, mumbles another. You’re all alone.

I don’t know.

I miss Clare with all my heart, but I don’t know.

When I pull my finger out of the water, it’s dark blue and scaly, shining like the stars. I used to think I changed into a fish when I touched water. I thought there was a kind of fish that was as big as a human, a kind that looked like a human but had a tail.

I thought I was called a mermaid.

Now I don’t know what to think.

I dry my finger off on my jeans, careful to not let the water soak through them and onto my leg. I hate the feel of the Change, hate the exhilaration, hate the soft tingling of my skin as it glows and twinkles into scales, hate the indigo color I become, hate the way my fingers are webbed and my legs are one stupid, scaly tail.

I hate it.

But now, I’m not so sure.

I don’t know what to think anymore.

***

Make effort to accept the Change. It will not be facile.
It will be painful, challenging & terrible.
At all costs, do not begin to hate thyself.
At all costs, never think Cruelly of the Change. Never. 
For is thou dost forget the Beauty of the Change, thou shalt have no Joy in life. 
Keep the Joy, & keep thy Change. 
Thou art one of the Mer. Thou art one of us. Thou hast found a place. 
Keep it. 

***
 
The fading autumn light pulses through me, sending waves of inspiration and feeling. I don’t know why, but I’m always incredibly inspired when the light hits me like that. I want to find a piano, want to sing, want to sing and sing and sing.

But I can’t. There are no pianos in the ocean, to room to sing or to breathe or to live. There is only room for beauty. It can be a little suffocating sometimes, but I have to love it, don’t I? I don’t have a choice.

It’s not the feeling of being enclosed, really, that hurts so much. It’s the missing, the wanting, the yearning. I can’t breathe above air anymore, can’t be who I was. I miss music the most; miss the way it flowed and glided from note to note in perfect harmony.

I miss the stars, too, miss their gleaming and twinkling. They don’t matter in the sea—just little pinpricks of light distorted through the undulating waves. Sometimes, I sneak above water and hold my breath, watch the stars and try to hear music in the distance. Or, like now, gaze at the sunset and try not to breathe for as long as possible. But I have to go under sometime, and then I am always found.

The Mer don’t like me going above water. I don’t know why. It’s not like I’m actually one of them—I mean, I am, I just haven’t always been. I used to be a human, and they can’t accept that. They think I’ll leave them. They know I can’t.

But I miss my life, miss being a girl and being in love. Adam. I miss Adam and the way he held me, I miss my best friend Nadia. Neither of them knew who I was. Neither of them even guessed. That’s reasonable, though, because it’s not like being a mermaid is a very smart guess.

I feel a tingle at the bottom of my tail and all my breath escapes. I have to dive down under, and my gills flap against my neck. I’ve always hated them. Lauren is there, beckoning me to swim down. I nod, and turn back one more time to watch. Far off, near the shore, I see a hand swirling in the water, a hand I think I know. But then Lauren pulls me downward, and I don’t know where the hand has gone. But I saw the color indigo it was. There is no mistaking that. Adam, I think, but my better judgment sweeps away that thought with a spear-tipped broom, and I swim away into the dark.

Sometimes I wonder if I left, would I turn back to normal when the water dried off, like I used to? Or would I shrivel up on the beach like the fish that I am, unable to breathe?

***

Only come if thou dost know the ways of the Coral and the blighte of the Stars.
Thou art one of us forever. Do not try to leave thy Home. 
Thy Home is thy place of safety. The Sea, thy house. 
Thou hast years to Live, years to swim with the Fishe, years. 
Do not waste them by leaving. 
But if thou dost leave, if thou darest, remember
Thou art alone. 
There is no help for the Deserted. 

***

I will never understand what she sees in the light of the stars. Do they speak to her, like the coral speaks to me? What was her life like above water? I cannot imagine it. Cannot even begin to comprehend. There is nothing of me that is not part of the water. I am the water, and the water is me.

But the way she smiles above the waves, the way she looks out onto shore like she has never seen anything more wonderful is the most bewitching thing I have ever seen. Her simple scales: so green and magical. Her hair: jade and glowing.

No other mermaid has ever been more beautiful.

I cannot think like this.

I cannot.

I must forget that I love her, for the sake of the Mer. For the sake of my family. For the sake of myself.

She will never love me. She will always love her human.

It kills me, the way she watches the stars. Because every time, I wish I were the stars.

But I cannot think that that.

I cannot.

***

It is the Change that binds thee. It is the Change that keeps thee whole. 
Without it, thou wouldst wither away into the Starts,
The dreams of life forging pathways on through thee
To destruction, to Love. 
Love is not the Change. The Change will tear Love apart. 
And thou art the Change, the Water, the Sea. 
Do not forget thy place. Do not forget, 
Remember, & forge on. 
Remember the Change, Remember the Change. 
Remember the Change. 
 

speaking in silence

Sunday, May 6, 2012

First of all, pretend this is Friday. Okay? Got it. Wonderful. :)

Now that you think it's Friday, because that's when I should have posted, this is a story by my incredible friend, Sophie, otherwise known as Tuna. It's called Speaking in Silence...


Words are the enemy. To speak is to feel, and that is something we are forbidden from doing. But before we surrender our hearts to the stage, we let the silence surround us. Wordless. Motionless. We are nothing. We tell stories by moving. Without speaking, we show the world love, hate, anger, and happiness. But it’s never ours. We hide our emotions with beauty. We don’t think; we just dance. And in the moments before the music starts the only sound is the whisper of the curtains and all we feel is the beating of our hearts.

“Evelyn, your turn.” I look straight ahead and do it again. I keep my green eyes facing front as I quickly pirouette. At the last minute I snap my head around, but I cast my eyes downward and I finish off balance. My right foot is way too far back, making the whole thing look terrible.

“Why did you look down?”


“I don’t know,” I said. “I guess I was thinking about something else.” 


“Stop thinking and do it again. You just need to keep your eyes forward.”


Pirouette. Turn my head. Look down. Same problem. 


“We’ll try again tomorrow; we need to move on. You need to be focused again.” 


I need to be good again.

If you walked you walk into a room at the ballet school , you’d see light brown floors, three brick walls with windows, and one wall that is one giant mirror. The floor would be littered with pointe shoes, bags, and extra leotards. You’ll also notice that there are two kinds of people there. People who take it seriously, and going to pursue it, and people who aren’t. It was always clear which one I was. In third grade, the first year you can audition for the Nutcracker, I was the only one in my class to get in. After that, teachers were always asking me to help with their younger classes. And because I was getting so much attention from teachers, all the other girls wanted to be my friend. I was popular. 
 

 I still am. But I’m not happy. 

And I’m not a good dancer. 


Focus. Devotion. 


The two things every dancer needs. 


Focus. Devotion. 


The two things I was beginning to lack. 



***


“Hey what are you doing here?” 


“I’m here to eat lunch. Is that allowed?” I said, looking around the boy standing in front of me, at the group of people sitting on the floor eating.


“Oh. Um...yeah.” 


“Okay, thanks.” 


Hector moved away from the auditorium door, allowing me to pass. I strode onto the stage and sat next to  Emily on the hard, beat up floor. Two sides of circle of people eating lunch and listening to music was on either side of us. 


“Might I ask why there’s now a guard?” I said to Emily. 


“What? Oh, Hector. He just doesn’t like non-theatre kids eating here.” 


“So he’s going to kick me out? That’d be interesting.” I looked over at Hector who only came up to my shoulder.


“No we wouldn’t let him.” 


“Besides,” said Kelsey. “You’re an honorary drama-kid.” 


“Yes, because we all know that doing no plays or musicals puts you in the drama kid category.” I said sarcastically. 


“You could be the shows you know,” Emily said, her wavy brown hair hanging around her, “You’d actually be really good.” 


“Of course.” I said, rolling my eyes. 


“Yes, I’ve heard you sing before.” 


“When?” 


“Recital Day. Remember?”


“Yes. But, I have ballet every day but Tuesday and Sunday.”


“Well you could stop doing ballet!” 


“Yeah, sure. About the same time you stop acting.”


We laughed but I knew it wasn’t really like that. Emily was as obsessed with acting as I had been with ballet. But the scary things was, I could do it. I could drop ballet to try something else. My teachers would be disappointed in me, but they’re already losing their patience. That night in class, one kept telling me, “If you just do this it’ll be perfect.” or “When you do it like that it’s perfect.” I wanted to scream at her, “Why do I have to be perfect?!” All the girls in the class had on blue leotards, pink slippers, and their hair was pulled into tight buns. “We’re like clones,” I thought. I was so tired of being here. “Why can’t I just be a little different for a while?” I thought. “What’s holding me down?” The answer to that, was nothing. 


That night I told my mom I wanted to stop ballet. Not permanently; I just needed to take a break. I didn’t tell her I was going to join the musical; she’d say I was being peer pressured into it. Which wasn't true. I think. 


“Why? You’ve been working at dance so hard.” she said. 


“I know, but it’s just the whole concept.” 


“What concept?”


“The idea that the more it hurts to do something, the better it looks to the audience.” 


“What do you mean?” 


“I mean...Well when I was little and I was always being yelled at for not pointing my toes. It’s was because that when I did, it felt like my arches were on fire. Then when I told my teacher that she said, ‘That’s really good! You’ll get used to it the more you do it so don’t worry.’ It’s like getting rewarded for being in pain. And we’re never allowed to be different. We all dress the same, we all walk the same, we are all taught to be the same.”


“I thought that’s what you liked about it- the precision and the consistency.” 


“That’s what I used to like, but now, I’m just... not happy anymore.” I knew that would get her to let me leave. If I could make her feel guilty, I could do anything. 


“Okay.” she said slowly, as her she played with her long, black hair. “I’ll take you out for this semester. So if you want to, you can go back in the spring.”
I didn’t tell anyone in my classes that I was leaving. I didn’t tell any of the girls who had trooped through the school with me since we were in second grade. Next week I would just be a girl named Evelyn. Evelyn who wasn’t good enough to keep at it. Evelyn who wasn’t strong enough. Evelyn who was so stupid to leave the thing she had given her life to. 


What was I thinking? 


The next day I immediately regretted my choice. But something told me not to change what I had done. Things happen for a reason, right? 



***


You never feel more like yourself then the day you take away what defines you. You notice who you are, instead of what you do. You feel closer to everyone around you, but at the same time more far away then ever. That’s how I felt the week I stopped ballet. I was free, but tied down by the lack of words there were to describe me. I had always been a dancer, but now I was just a human. 


The question that always loomed around the corner was, “What do I do now?” 


“Walk around the stage. Don’t worry about where you’re going just walk.”


Musical auditions couldn’t be more unlike how I expected. I thought it would be all the drama kids standing in a line singing the same song over and over, one by one. But it wasn’t like that. We had walked in and were immediately told to keep walking. 


“Now turn to a the person to your right.” I turned my head and saw Emily standing next to me. 


“Now the person closer to the audience say one word. It can be anything.” 


“Serendipity!” said Emily. 


Later, as the audition went on we played games and sang a song together. It was like being in kindergarten, but it didn’t really feel like that because everyone in the room was dead serious about what they were doing. It was a bit bizarre seeing people be so passionate and so focused on pretending to be an elephant. But I guess it would be wired for them to see someone so passionate and focused about getting their feet in a perfect 180 degree angle. 

I was surprisingly unfazed by the whole audition. It would make sense that I would be nervous doing this for the first time, but I wasn’t. “It’s because even if I’m not dancing, the stage is still my home.” I thought. 


When it came time to sing our song solo, we all waited in the audience while others sang. Then we walked up and did it ourselves. When I sang nothing exciting happened. When I was finished everyone was just staring at me. I could see Emily’s light blue eyes staring up at me with a mix of surprise and happiness. 


“You were amazing!” she said as I stepped off the stage and sat next to her. 


“Thanks.”


“Thank you for doing this with me.”


“Only now I have to decide which I’m going to do.”


“Ballet or the musical? I thought you already knew.”


“I do, I meant in the long term. I need to know which I’m going hold onto, and which I’m going to let go.”


“Why do you have to decide now? You have all this year to try acting. How can you decide before you try them both?”


After years of of people always telling me what I have to do and how to be perfect, it was weird having someone tell me to wait and make my own choice, and knowing it was the right thing to do. There was time. Time to think, time to decide. Time to live in a different world for a while. 



***


Words are what gives us our power. To speak is to feel, and that is what we put upon ourselves and those who watch us. Emotion. In the moments before the curtain opens, we let silence surround us. Letting it push away who we really are. We tell stories by speaking. We show the world love, hate, anger, and happiness. But it’s never ours. It is the love, hate, anger and happiness of those we pretend to be, and by being those people we let their emotions become our own. We don’t need to think, for those who we pretend to be do that for us. But in the moments before the play begins, we have not fully left ourselves but we are not fully another. We are nothing. And the only sound is the whisper of the curtains and all we feel is the beating of our hearts. 

full moon

Saturday, May 5, 2012

 Starting a poem
With only a title
Not knowing where it will lead
Walking down a path
I can only dream
Of dreaming
Hanging upside-down
And right side below
And turned all around
Unable to breathe
Stuck
Somewhere in between
Black keys and white
Winter and spring
Anger and indifference
Knowing the better option
Is whatever is right
But what can be right
When everything is wrong?
I can’t decide
Hanging upside-down
And right side below
And turned all around
Unable to run
Broken
Interrupted
In a pattern of nothing
But glow
And beauty
Shining down
From nowhere
Changing what I knew
Introducing want I don’t
Think I want to see
But am seeing anyway
Why can’t we all stay
Cradled in a crescent moon?
Why can’t we all sleep
With the stars on our backs
And the moon guiding our way?
It is all infallible now
Hanging upside-down
And right side below
And turned all around
Unable to grow
I don’t want the full moon to come
I want it to stay small
And real
And young
I don’t want to change
Want to leave
Want to escape
Want to run
As far away as I can
Want to never look back
Is all I dream of
Dreaming
Walking down a path
Trying to find the definition
Of a word I don’t know
Somewhere in between
Black keys and white
Winter and spring
Anger and indifference
Crescent and full
Trying to find
The truth
Hanging upside-down
And right side below
And turned all around
Unable to see
A moon
As full
As yesterday’s

In honor of the overflowing full moon tonight, which at 11:30 will be the closest to Earth all year. Looking at it—that's magic. 

making art

Thursday, May 3, 2012

I know I'm not the only photographer here, and also that I'm not the only one who edits my photos to, simply put, make them awesome(r). :)
 
Before it closed, I used to use Picnick.com, which has now transferred mainly to Creative Kit in Google+. I've tried Creative Kit out, and it just doesn't do it for me like Picnik used to. But I've discovered PicMonkey.com, which I personally like a lot, but photo editing is up to the photographer and computer user. It's all your choice. I'm telling you, though, wherever you go, photo editing is really fun to do, and it makes your photos all the more awesome. Today, I'm going to show you a ten-step process of how I edit photos using PicMonkey.


1. We'll start with this,  a simple photo of a rose I took while at a botanical garden in Montreal.
  
2. First, I used a technique called "Cross Process" to fiddle with the color a little bit. 


3. I know this change isn't very visible, but I used "Dusk" to change the exposure and darken the photo just a tad, to give it a more fairytale feel. 
 

4. I then used the editing tool "Intrepid" to change the color—make it violet and shadowed.

5. Afterward, because I wanted to fade the colors and make the overall feel a little bit vintage, I used "Time Machine" to do so. 

6. Again, to bring in the vintage and fairytale feel that I wanted to incorporate into the photo, I decided to use a technique called "Polaroid Film" to meet my needs.
 

7. Next, I continued to mess with the colors, fiddling around with them a little bit by using "Film Stock", which darkened the shadows and emphasized the contrasts.

8. Now that I was content with the color of the photo, I wanted to make it glow and soften like silk, so I used "Orton", and ended up with this, which I liked a lot, because it looked like a storybook illustration. 

9. Thinking that the rose looked like it was from a storybook or fairytale, like I wanted it to, I decided to add a texture. The textures of all photo editing websites or programs are my favorite technique, because I love to make the picture pop and seem real. To go along with the book theme, I chose a woven texture like the binding of an old hardcover, called "Weave".
 

10. Finally, I wanted to add on to the texture, so I decided to add "Edifice", which caused the petals to look cracked and mysterious. I took a step back to look at the photo, and realized I was done, because it met the idea I slowly had begun to form in my head—vintage, bound like a storybook, mysterious, and right out of a fairytale. 

And so, I went from here:
 
to here:

in just ten simple steps, and I ended up with the perfect photo. So can you.