There are only a few weeks before I meet with professors at East Tennessee State to discuss my hopeful entry into graduate work in literature, with perhaps some French translation and classes on the side. I am terrified for many reasons. Nina has another plan for her life? Don’t hold your breath…You’ll be able to support yourself and study modern poetry all day? See collegehumor.com for further insight into that moment of brain reduction…Somewhere as cool as Seattle or D.C. or Greensboro is going to support your decision? Have you ever set foot in a classroom to teach professionally? What makes your application fellowship-winning, you whom failed an aerobics class because you were lazy?
I’m bombarded, and don’t know how to tell a panel of scholar-genuises who I am, what skills I have, or what makes me unique. I only have a seed of faith, that it will all come to pass even if it doesn’t look exactly like this.
Here’s an old book review, poem, and three journal entries that remind me of how writing and learning is always evolving and growing into a hinterland of magic….
“Maynard and Jennica, An Ecumenical Love Story” (August 14, 2008)
What could I possibly do in New York City that I couldn’t do in Greensboro,North Carolina?Now that you’ve finished laughing, I’d like to begin my laudatory exposition of RudolphDelson’s Maynard & Jennica. The character portraits here, so beautifully ripe with authenticity and charm, ratify human existence in numerous voices around NY city and manuever your soul through one or more of the well-crafted personalities. You have been a sweaty,
smitten fool holding his place on the subway and dreaming up ways to impress a fellow rider. (This is dear Maynard Gogarty, a combination of the guy from the Alltel commercials and the obnoxious class know-it-all.) You have constructed ridiculous lists describing past lovers, maybe in your head instead of on
paper, and lost hope for true love with your cute, frightening eagerness. (Enter sweet, nervous Jennica Green.) You have attempted survival. (Ana
Kaganova collects the reader’s antipathy with her piercing, antagonistic post-9/11 scheming.) And you have seen a possible answer to the questions of
love. (Characters here will remain nameless, because this book’s ending could be your own.) Every fleshed-out oddity sparkles on pages of shifting narration,
ultimately focused on Maynard and Jennica’s relationship, but illuminating other potent tales.
As the couple meets in a series of chance encounters, an ex-girlfriend and parents and others offer their voices of understanding through documented interviews. Jennica’s brother explains why she is never happy, Maynard’s grandmother insults her grandson’s work ethic, and a happy-go-lucky yet street-wise
adolescent reveals his humor from an outsider’s perspective. They are all connected by 9/11, and Delson paints this portrait in broad, bright strokes.
As a recent English grad who lives in her own head way too much, my favorite is Maynard. Witty, verbose and outwardly unafraid, the art-world nerd shuffles out criticism like the scrabble pieces he deliberately tosses in during a tense family gathering, stating that “A dignified word is one that requires all seven of your tiles. A play-out. Preferably without any blank tiles, and preferably neither a plural noun nor a verb in anything but the infinitive.” (Delson 218)
This is the kind of guy you may gossip about behind his back, but still wanted to have at your summer party.
Maynard and Jennica offer a glimpse into all the tenacity, joy, and sorrow of any relationship with any human being. They hash it out over conflicting views of what 9/11 represents, see each other through the eyes of their loved ones, and make decisions to continue with the heartache or try some new heartache somewhere else.
So dip this literary jewel into your beach tote, stain it over lunch, or avoid conversation with businessmen on the airplane. You’ll find that New
York, London, Paris, or Greensboro, we all share the same pumping blood.
“Steam-fired Green Tea” (July 20, 2008)
According to packaging rambunctious ginger
smothers pear infusing heat and sharpened juice
in the living room,
deep but not quite flavorfully complete.
You can barely smell the resurgence,
through watered leaves
and a tender, moist beautification.
Teetering out of porcelain artwork
the fruit and temperament absorb
light traces of the instructions,
“enjoyment”, “tranquility” and “soul”.
These things slide quietly down my throat
My Thoughts On “Sex and the City”: May 30, 2008
Charlotte might be my ideally outfitted pregnant woman and eternally cheerful motivator. Carrie was honestly crushed, her heart ripped from her chest and driven over by a taxi, but her friends and her love of life brought her back to some version of happiness. Miranda is jaded, but chose family in the end. Samantha is a disappointment, but she will learn. These are the judgments that I pass onto four women who shook up the Western world’s cinema tonight, and I love them because they are as real as flesh and I hope and pray that one day they will find what true, no-holds-barred love looks like. It drives me to become a true, no-holds-barred disciple who portrays this satisfying heart.
Slow To Write: June 3, 2008
It took Moses and David years to compose, and yet we seek the flash fiction masterpiece that sounds to me like an oxymoron…I guess you can give flash fiction its own category of beautiful art, but I want my fiction and poetry and non-fiction to be beautiful. To me that speaks of a long, frustrating process. It hurts. It bleeds. It comes out of something horrible to create something wonderful. I turn to my eternal God right now, asking for peace and the art of this commitment.
Crumbled Pain: June 4, 2008
Today a black man has the expected nomination for the United States presidential democratic candidate, Barak Obama. I can say black, freely and without any cringing, because this is the kind of nationalistic pride I can indulge in: change, hope, future unity. India Arie has a very pretty song, “This Too Shall Pass” on the CD that Risa gave me. I cling to the hope of Christ and His solid work, that He has never left me miserable without purpose. One day it will
shape into gold…