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Home.

There is, as always, a bittersweet tang curled in the crannies of the moments of transition. Freshman year of college is done, and so summer comes with the hopes of a job and friends and fun. Yet I leave behind the newest memories and newest friendships to sleep until they may once again bloom in the autumn as the next semester begins. Then, too, shall the tartness of the moment be tasted, for then I leave home – sanctuary — for the other home, that less familiar and less kind.

How I wish there were a way to remedy or combine the two worlds; sometimes I fear I will shatter and become two separate entities to coexist in these two similar but different worlds.

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For your reading pleasure this afternoon, I give you the polished poem “Why I Can’t Find the Derivative” as a sample of the portfolio I am currently banging my head against revising.

I know it’s a stereotype, but it is a stereotype for a reason — most writers or artists in general have a vendetta or just plain hatred of math. Is it because it deals with logic and reason rather than imagination and creativity? Or is there something else to it? While I do have a definitive distaste for math, I seriously respect those who can do math, especially the more ‘creative’ math with all of the proofing and the calculating and the words I don’t know…
But, without further adieu, the poem:

 Why I Can’t Find the Derivative
Because my mind is not crossed into numerical maps,
but painted into murals on the canvas of my synapses.

My eyes see colors and textures,
unable to decipher the volumes and depths.
I sit, frustrated, as I pour hours into meaningless problems –
each passing equation siphons another minute from my life.

I erase the paper until it tears,
destroying the object of my frustration.

Dreams are coated in language and acryllics,
resisting the binary of the arithmetic realm.
I look out into the world I long for,
sitting in the left cobwebbed corner of math class.

The window teases me,
locking me in but hinting escape.

The teacher calls on me and numerical
vomit spews from my mouth.
I get looks of disappointment, sadness –
shame encompasses me.

Factorial silence as letters are forced
to transform into numbers,
their functions no longer to
create but to clinically state.

I am illiterate in this continent of logic
and reason. The numerical maps only lead me here,
to pain. I can only pray for exile,
when at last I can follow the painting of my imagination.

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Top Ten Words You Need to Stop Misspelling

The Oatmeal is an assortment of random truths, absurd humor, and biting sarcasm. There are comics, not only about grammar, but also about cats, food, and technology!

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I’m going to be published in Ithaca College’s Stillwater.

And it feels damn good.

What is ironic, however, is that I am having a poem published when I don’t really consider myself a poet. This led to my reassessment of what I have had published in the past — only to realize the bulk of my published work is in poetry.

I aspire to be a fiction writer, and yet my greatest successes have come from poetry. Is this merely a logistical truth[1], or some sort of hilarious irony by the cosmos?

I promise I’m not complaining — but I am reevaluating my past work and my future. I don’t think of myself as a poet; hell, I rarely even write poetry for my personal enjoyment. But when I do write that one, good poem…it feels good. Real good.
And it feels even better to have others recognize that it is good.

For anyone in the New York Tompkins County area, this evening there will be a release party for Stillwater, as well as the winners of the Writing Department’s Writing Contest here on the Ithaca College campus! It will be at 6pm in the Handwerker Gallery, and I am told there will be refreshments. Who isn’t excited about the possibility of free food and drink?

1. Poetry has more opportunities for publications because literary magazines can put ten or fifteen poems whereas can only hold two or three pieces of prose.

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It may have been the twelfth or fifteenth time I slipped that tape in the VHS player; I wasn’t keeping track. The lid closed on the grey box with a click, and the gears inside began to groan and whir. The large TV, covered in a thin layer of dust and a train of greeting cards from my Memere’s collection balanced on the top, flashed blue and crackled into life. My stomach twirled with excitement. Sparks of anticipation flew down my legs, tickling my muscles and bones. I danced a little to squash the itching sparks. I dove onto the navy couch – it smelled like warmth and vacuumed carpet. My eyes were latched onto the screen. Advertisements began with the iconic blue Disney screen. My excitement mounted. And, finally, the blue screen I had been waiting for: Studio Ghibli. The film was starting.

            Kiki’s Delivery Service is, to this day, one of my all-time favorite films. Since I was young, curled up on the beaten navy couch in my Memere’s stuffy-hot house, I have watched that film upwards of thirty times. Each time, I pick up on another detail, another nuance. Screenshot from Kiki's Delivery ServiceAs I small child, I wanted nothing more than to emulate the protagonist, Kiki, and soar up into the sky on a broomstick to find myself. I didn’t see the gorgeous artwork of the seascape (with frothy whites for the seafoam painted meticulously) or notice the complex narrative that unraveled a young woman’s coming-of-age story. Now I watch the movie and see these things, which do not subtract, but add, to the experience. The music transcends my physical self, plunging me into the past when my stomach flipped as though I, too, was a high-flying witch-in-training.

            Different now, too, is how I end the movie. I was sad, bitter even, when I was seven and saw the credits begin to roll. I speedily trotted to the VHS player to stop and rewind it. Now, I look at the credits and appreciate them. These are the people who brought me this joy – no, this external piece of me. After the cast list rolls, in order of appearance, I begin to notice one man’s name recurring: Hayao Miyazaki, the writer, director, and animator. What kind of God-like man could almost single-handedly envision and execute an animated film? It seemed preposterous, really.

I discovered, some way or another along my life in the Information Age, that this mysterious Hayao Miyazaki had many other films he had directed, and/or written, and/or animated, and/or produced. It was not until 2002 that I would watch another one of his films, marking a severe obsession with his work.

Princess Mononoke Spirit           Hayao Miyazaki has been in the international film spotlight since around 1997 with the release of his film Princess Mononoke. The film follows a Prince on his journey to try to lift a curse put on him by a demon he killed trying to protect his village, and in traveling discovers a forest inhabited by ancient Gods that are warring with the encroaching industrial civilization of humans. The story is visceral, violent, and yet beautiful while commenting on the deforestation and war between industry and nature. Miyazaki has said, “I often think about the relationship between nature and me, a human. I exist within nature, but also there’s nature in me…that is somehow connected with Mother Nature. We neglect the fact that we are products of nature.”

The movie reached critical acclaim and spread across the globe, quickly stamping a record in Japan’s box office as the highest-grossing domestic film of its time[1]. This man-beast of an animator — no, storyteller – blossomed from a small animator in Tokyo to a world-worshipped artist and cinematic narrator. I am still curious, to this day, whether this man possesses super-powers.

His birth, however, is quite normal. Born to an aeronautics engineer on January 5th, 1941, Miyazaki was quickly infatuated with lighter-than-air-travel and flight in general. His artwork early on in childhood and school focused on planes and other imaginative aircraft. His love was consistently spurred on by his father’s business, Miyazaki Airplanes, which produced fighter planes for the war. Inevitably, World War II left a hefty effect on young Miyazaki which has carried through his adulthood.

Hayao Miyazaki and His Creations

From 1944 to 1947, his family had to leave Japan. Upon their return, his mother contracted spinal tuberculosis, leaving her bedridden for eight years. She had a profound effect on him (as can be evidenced by My Neighbor Totoro, where the two young leads move to the country to be closer to their hospitalized mother). In high school, he showed great promise in art and had already fallen in love with the manga (comic) art style of Japan that was popular at the time. So what does he do? He goes to Gakushuin University to study political science and economics.Miyazaki, the artist, the storyteller, is in fact carrying around a degree in political science and economics.

Luckily for the world, instead of using that degree, he may use it as a paperweight for his desk or a bookend to hold up his Academy Award and Berlin Film Festival Award (and countless other baubles and statues attesting to his phenomenal art and skill). Ever the practical man, though, he had studied in those fields with the intention of helping Japan’s economy back on its feet after been ravaged after the war. Respect is due for the practical thinker, especially when I decide to major in writing and minor in religious studies. He went for the realistic, while I go for the idealistic. Different paths to different individuals, I suppose.


[1] . This record would only be broken by Hayao Miyazaki himself in 2001 with the release of Spirited Away.

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Writing major? Who does that?

Me.

Where the heck does one find such a major?

In a few nestled places — almost always, if not exclusively, liberal minded colleges. I for one am in Ithaca College, center of the wannabe hippie world.

Do you need this major to be a writer?

Well, no…

Is it going to help you get published?

…not necessarily.

Why do it?

…to pull thousands of dollars out of my butt in preparation of living in a box and forever fighting for publication. It’s slightly masochistic, really… (In all seriousness, it does give a great amount of practice, experience, and networking opportunities.)

What does a writing major DO?

Write. Most of the time. All of the time? A lot of writing, let’s leave it at that.

Can you have a life?

Oh, yes. It’s probably one of the few times a writer can feel less like a hermit and more a part of a substantial, flesh-and-blood community. Unlike those poor, poor music majors who are locked away practicing for their recital, we writing majors can actually get together to write or revise or, most of the time, procrastinate! I personally try to take advantage of social interactions knowing I will likely become a solitary and grumpy author with cold hands and a colder heart.

So, finals are coming up. What do they look like?

Portfolios. After working on many different pieces throughout the year, it’s time for editing, revision, and polishing to pass in to the professor. It’s nerve-wracking but also blissfully calming to know that all my work will finally be finished, tucked away in a pretty little folder.

Can you get laid easily?

No. No more than saying “Hey, I’m a philosophy major” can get you laid. Please re-think your major choice if you want to seduce people. Try Directing for instance…or psychology if manipulation is the route you’re going for.

I don’t understand…why choose to be a writing major when all this money is needed, and there isn’t even a guarantee of having a better career than a non-college-degree writer, or even getting laid?

I don’t get it either.

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Here is where I return, full of guilt and sorries and explanations as to my two months of postlessness.

Except I don’t feel like I should be apologetic, because that would mean I had no good reason to neglect this blog I have worked hard on. No; life happens. They say life sucks, then you die. That philosophy was given quite a bit of evidence with all of the Lifetime movie melodrama whirling in my life (unwarranted, mind you). Classes became tyrannical monarchs, friends became estranged (or downright exiled for possible serial-killer red flags), and hearts were stabbed with sharp, point needles.

And I thought college would be more mature. I guess that’s my naiveté showing.

I am guilty and sorry, though, that I never posted acknowledging my absence or my difficulties. That was just crappy of me to do, and for that, I apologize. No one should be left in the dark or the dust, or the dusty dark.

I plan to slowly re-enter the steady schedule of Kurious Krawford.

I do hope everyone has survived the winter; I’m still thawing out.

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