Redundant

Opening Line

It wouldn’t be the first and it wouldn’t be the last.

She would toss and turn in the night,

her mind assaulted by her past.

Tremors and mumblings she constantly restrained,

her heart and soul still in shock from the pain.

No.

It wouldn’t the first and wouldn’t be the last,

where romance would enter slowly

and die so fast.

She was a stranger to reciprocal affections.

She was always privy to her emotional defections.

No.

It wouldn’t be the first and wouldn’t be the last.

So many would leave and she would wait behind,

Feeling so deeply she was her own anchor.

The first to give and the first to die.

It wouldn’t be the first and wouldn’t be the last

College Kid Tourist, Stop Acting Like One

Tourist

I’m not talking about college tours, where a few enrolled students master the perpetual smile, the backward walk, and the knack for university trivia for the sake of roping in more applicants. I am talking about the already enrolled student body and the 4 year (or more) tourism that tends to ensue.  I haven’t blogged for six days and partially it is because I have been a little apprehensive to tackle this issue.  I plan on writing on this issue a little bit at a time, but for now I want to comment on the student mentality of tourism.  

What is distinctive (and  aggravating) about tourism is sometimes a two-sided issue.  It all depends on what side of the fence you are on.  I’ve been a tourist before, and its a fun experience because I became an observer to people, and a culture I had never encountered before.  I ate foods I had never tasted before. I learned bits of history that was beyond my knowledge.  Of course, my eyes were dazzled by the architecture…there were magical moments when I saw the Colosseum and I thought, I saw that in my history book and now I’m actually here in front of it…

That sounds like an accurate account of tourism, right?  Sure.

Something that is often forgotten, is that tourism does not stop when tourists leave.  Being a tourist, touring, and tourism alters the dynamic of the locality (maybe for the better or for the worst) of that destination.  Another fact to consider is that tourism and being a tourist can happen at the domestic level.  Examples (off the top of my head) would be major cities like New York City, national parks, little islands like Antigua, and university campuses.

Campus tours give the illusion that either the local area does not exist or that the locality is a distant external force. Everything displayed is for the student and for academia. There  is no need to look outside of the campus anything,  with the exception of entertainment (festivals, concerts, food etc.)  The student is not encouraged to learn about the city/place they will be living for the next four or more years of their lives.  This bothers me.

We, as college students, tend to act like tourists when we have definitely overstayed our welcome.  We sometimes fail to acknowledge and educate ourselves on the impact of our presence on our host-cities and towns. We may not be local, but we are not tourists

(will be continued…)

Awe, Like a Cave

Awe
The word itself is a vocal exercise.  I remember my choir teachers demanding that we open our mouths like a cave.  Round and tall.  Awe. Awwwwwwwwgh.  Other than that, “awe”  has limited usage in my vocabulary.  Instead, I tend to say the following when met with something interesting, pretty, or impactful.

When I’m riding my bike around sunset,”Dude, look at that sunset! Whoa!” I might say this regardless of the fact that I am biking alone.

When someone tells me something very surreal, “Oh man…thats intense…” It slips easily from my lips.  I wouldn’t want to just stand there staring at the person, mouth agape.  That might get a little awkward.

In the event that I am surprised beyond reason I will explode with, “OH Sugar Honey Ice Tea!” or other fun words.

The truth is, I haven’t been in awe in a very long time.

The last time I probably was in awe was when I was a little girl, and I don’t remember the time or place…  I think I was with my aunt, uncle, and grandparents, and I saw this huge fountain. Like a tall building, except it was composed of fast moving water. Granted it was huge to me because I was pretty miniature at the time, but I felt like a particle.  It was terrifying, but I wanted to get closer. Soon, my eyes turned into fountains of their own, and I would inch forward and then turn away—retreating into the refuge of my family.  After I while, I just stared at it, timidly reaching my little paw out to catch drops of water that separated from the downpour.

I hesitate to use the phrase, “I felt awe” because I think the thing that differentiates awe is that the feelings you do feel are so contradictory and perplexing that it becomes a state of being.   It could be a few minutes or an hour-long session.  But for those moments when you are in are in awe, you have no words. In that moment, you are coming to terms with something that outsizes you.  I think thats part of the reason that awe is such a human reaction, because I live in a world where humanity is the pinnacle.  Humanity is biggest, the best, and the brightest, and if I do encounter something that makes me feel vulnerable—whether that be a shooting star, a red moon, or crack in the earth’s crust—I can always figure it out…collect my factoids.

Awe is like a cave.  You enter the cave, and it is a cave because it can engulf you.  Its dark and intimidating, but its awesome.  So you continue to go deeper. I look forward to experiencing awe again one day.

 

Doors and Locks

The Story Behind a Door

Doors like this can appear anywhere—in your basement, in your relationships, in your dreams.  This door was all too familiar in my early house.

This house was rather pristine, although no more unique than all the other pop-up suburban houses that neighbored it.  Most suburban doors are white adorned with indented rectangular quadrants with a gold-plated door handle. I would knock on this particular door often. It was always cold on my knuckles and my muscles tensed upon finding the handle constantly immovable.  The door kept more out than letting anything in.

***

“Hey, can I come in?”

The door spat back, “No. Go do something constructive—like read a book.”

“I just haven’t seen you..”

“No.”

“Okay.”

***

The door would sometimes yell and scream in different voices. It acted like I wasn’t there listening, but I was.  When I heard the lock pop, I would scurry away, only to come back later in the night to listen to it whisper.  My name came up often, but it spoke of things beyond me.  Sometimes, I thought the door was hurting because I could hear it moaning and panting at night.  Then sometimes it was completely silent, no matter how many times I asked for it to open.

Google Maps and Being Lost

Sometimes you feel bad about all the electricity you’re using by keeping the fan on.  The fan is always on.   The crack of hell decided to gape open today, and its 90 degrees.  Your skin is always sticky. Dirty. But everything feels better when the summer wind is rushing against your skin.  You figure a bike ride is better than sitting in heat. So you ride, but  this was no meandering ride on the trail to let your mind wander.  This was a little journey, one of many you’ve had this summer. You religiously check to make sure your phone is reachable within you satchel.  Google maps is your bestest friend; it is your beacon.  It makes the unexplored seem like nothing special, and it doesn’t make you look lost.  But no matter, you felt a little lost today, and maybe a couple of people noticed.

Today you went along the bike trail that went straight into the city.  It makes you nervous biking into the city, where hot engines constantly roar at the rolling click of your bicycle and being defensive is your best chance of not dying.  You can’t really relax here.  However, the continual reference to Google maps makes you feel more secure.  You pass the river, and peddle over bridges, pass looming buildings, and your wheeled form flickers in window reflections.  You keep going, careful not to clip any pedestrians.  You wonder if any of them get annoyed when you blurt, “LEFT!” or “RIGHT” or “PARDON…PARDON ME!”  At least you let them know you were coming.

You start to leave behind the core of the city and the directions lead you the crispier, riddled parts.  All the corners had been turned, hills had been mounted, and you are finally here.  Your destination is right across the street.  You just have to park your bike.  You scan the sidewalk—disappointed that no obvious bike racks were in sight.  The area emanates a need for caution; you don’t ignore this.  You decide to plant you bike on a tree and begin to wrestle your bike lock around it.  It’s not working.  You are struggling and you have gained an audience.

Out of your peripheral vision, you see a red van and the windows prevent you from seeing who is inside. You can tell that they are watching you, but there is no need to be paranoid, right?  They are probably parking.  After a few seconds, you notice that their engine has not turned off.  They have not stopped watching.  You decide that it would be better to park your bike elsewhere, away from the truck.  You roll your bike away and an invisible string brings the truck with you.  You no longer try conceal that you are trying to identify the driver.  The truck eases beside you and the window rolls down to reveal a man.

He says, “Hey, you can park your bike on this pole here or over on those posts.”

You internally are fully aware of your parking options, but you are wary as to why this person felt compelled to direct you.

You say, “Oh yeah, I saw that.”  Not, I’m well aware, I just wanted you to stop watching me and leave me alone.  Maybe that would have been rude.

“Alright, sweety.” Sweety. He flashes me a smile and pulls away.  Barely a moment passes and another man is walking briskly towards you.

He asks, “Was that man stalking you? What did that man say to you?  Did you know that man? “

I express quickly that I did not personally know him and that he was telling me biking parking options.  The man eyes are wide concern.

“Okay, I was wondering…thats why I looked back for his license plate numbers…I was wondering, ‘Is he stalking that young lady?’ but everything’s okay?”

“Yeah, yeah.  Everything is fine. Thanks.”

Google map has no directions for you—for this type of thing.  Google Maps doesn’t make you look lost, but can’t erase the fact that you are. Lost. Crossroads aren’t always on the ground.

People Usually Call Me, Alexandria

It’s a mouthful. There is always that moment—a pivot in the flow of a conversation where he/she will ask me, “Wait, what do you prefer? Do people ever call you, Alex?”

“No. Alexandria is fine.”

Names imbibe the purpose of being a convenience for someone else.  We have names so that our identities can be summoned without the untidy considerations for our personality, purpose(lessness), or presence.  Our names are functional for the impersonal.  For me, however, my name has never been something I just typed onto my term papers or  for online usernames.  It is a personal ordeal to say the least.

As a kid, I was a bit in love with my name.  I prided my self in giving correction when I was addressed with the misnomer of Alexis, Alexa, Alexandra, and even Alexander!  I would pertly chirp, “Actually, my name is Alexandria. Alexandria Brown.”  I liked the way it sounded, and I liked it even more when I found out what it meant.  I got wind that it had something or other to do with the greatly esteemed Alexander the Great.

Greek Meaning:

The name Alexandria is a Greek baby name. In Greek the meaning of the name Alexandria is: A feminine form of Alexander meaning defender of men, used in Britain since early 13th century; it became popular after the marriage of the 1863 marriage of future King Edward VII to Princess Alexandra of Denmark.

  In short, Alexandria means “Defender of Mankind” or “Protector of Man.”  I had been bestowed this hefty namesake, and I internally reveled in it.  My grandmother had purchased a little book of historical figures, and I book marked Alexander the Great’s entry and allowed his little blurb of history to roll through my mind often. I was pleased to be associated with such a dynamic man.  He conquered all of the Persian empire and his influence kicked off the Hellenistic period.  Every now and again, I jokingly wonder to myself whether some of that sense of purpose and destiny will rub off on me by the time I graduate. One can only hope.
As I grew up—and part of it may have been the hyper-awareness I had for my name—I developed deep convictions about standing up for others. “Protecting” them.  Again, having my name became a verb; it was not about me in the end.  It was about what I could do for others—protecting others, defending others, confronting others.
Of course, my zealous efforts to be the hero for other people was not entirely unwarranted or misguided, but it was easy to forget that I needed to include myself in my own rescue programs every once and while.Today, I am of the thought that names aren’t important because of how others can identify you, but it is a reminder to acknowledge yourself.
A name is not fate, it is not destiny, it is not a summoning gesture. A name is an opportunity for you and others to recognize your presence in this world.
So there are moments, when introducing myself where I detect the assumption that I recognize that my name is a bit much to say all at once.
The person may ask, “Do you prefer Alex or Alexandria?”
I feel free to answer, “Alexandria will do.”