Tag Archives: quote

Hope is a Lioness

15 Aug

“Education breeds confidence. Confidence breeds hope. Hope breeds peace.”―Confucius

No.

Or at least, not always.

Education breeds knowledge. Knowledge can make you stand up and shout and stomp your foot, because here is your evidence, here is your fact, here is your goddamn certainty that this thing here is so.

Knowledge can also make you sit down and shut up because you know, you know that you are a human and have the capacity to be astoundingly wrong.

Knowledge breeds awareness. And sometimes, awareness can breed doubt.

Confidence can breed hope, but confidence can also breed hate. Confidence carries with it the offspring of swagger, a dangerous little bugger if not raised right. Confidence can slay its ancestor, replacing a birthright of knowledge with a reign of blind and willful ignorance instead. Confidence will sometimes shut its ears like that.

Hope is taken for such a quiet little thing. Hope will placate. Hope will soothe. Hope will take your rumbling shores and show you where to dock your anchor.

But hope is about weathering all that.

Hope is the thing that will stand up and fight in the night. Hope is the thing that will make you push on, even when the winds blow so hard as to strip you of all your armor. Hope is being able to stand naked before the world and say that still, you have these hands to fight with. Still, you have this mind within you. Still, you are on your feet before it all and you, against the odds, are not yet dead. Hope does not need reason. Hope does not need bravery. Knowledge and confidence be damned, hope will lean on crutches of desperate abandon and wavering limbs.

Hope is sometimes about reconciliation, but it is always about risk.

Hope may bring peace,

but it may also bring a body count with it.

Hope is no quiet, quivering mouse.

Hope is a lioness with her claws not yet out.

Hope breeds strength,

bodies strung with humming prowess.

A brood of capacity that pads noiselessly in the dark –

silent only until the kill.

Hope births the drive to sate the grumbling emptiness of a stomach,

and peace is not always what fills a belly.

Advertisements

On Feminism

22 Sep
Though if you want to be a delicate princess, all the time or sometimes, then you are damn well welcome to do so too. (source)

Though if you want to be a delicate princess, all the time or sometimes, then you are damn well welcome to do so too.
(source)

Just moments ago, to put it in breaking news lingo, I read an article on Emma Watson’s speech to the UN on feminism and, particularly, the HeForShe campaign. The article cites a glorious portion of Watson’s speech in which she says that she decided to be a feminist because it just made sense.

I decided that I was a feminist. This seemed uncomplicated to me. But my recent research has shown me that feminism has become an unpopular word. Women are choosing not to identify as feminists. Apparently, [women’s expression is] seen as too strong, too aggressive, anti-men, unattractive.

Why has the word become such an unpopular one? I think it is right I am paid the same as my male counterparts. I think it is right that I should make decisions about my own body. I think it is right that women be involved on my behalf in the policies and decisions that affect my life. I think it is right that socially, I am afforded the same respect as men.

Many a badass woman has talked about how they of course they decided to be feminist, because when they paused to look around at the world they lived in, it just made sense.

This is not how I became a feminist.

I don’t think I’d go so far as to say I was “born” a feminist, but I was certainly shaped into one from before the age that kids develop theory of mind. What feminism really stands for, the ideas of equality – equal opportunity, equal respect – they were delivered to me as the norm. I grew up a feminist the way you can grow up a Southerner, or a Catholic, or a French-speaker. What feminism said was just a fact of life, the same way that belly buttons and fingernails and noses were.

Well, mostly.

Let’s back up and pan out. I grew up in the Midwest, as many of you lovely readers know. Because my parents are brilliant humans who cared deeply about my education, I attended a private, all-girls school from the age of three. Sure, this caused a lot of difficulties in my life, because a pre-pubescent or post-pubescently-hormonal clique of girls is about the social meanness equivalent of a pack of rabid hyenas starving for unsuspecting prey with a side of well-marinated sadism, but beyond that, uh, tiny pitfall, my school had a hell of a lot going for it.

For one thing, I was surrounded by girls. Yes, I did art and English and social studies and French entirely surrounded by girls. But I also did algebra and geometry and trigonometry and AP calculus and honors physics and AP bio and AP chemistry entirely surrounded by girls, too. There was never even a spec of the “girls can’t do/are less good than boys at STEM fields” attitude that apparently pervades other academic institutions. For me, the idea just plain didn’t compute. It was ridiculous. It was laughable. At least, it was once I heard about it. Because growing up from the age of three going to a school that required I and my entirely female classmates to take all those STEM field classes, and furthermore take them under the direction of something like 98% female faculty – the idea that “women aren’t good at math/science” never entered my brain. It’s like how I don’t know the Chinese word for milk. It’s just not ever something that was taught or exposed to me. I don’t speak Chinese. I don’t speak anti-feminism.

My school showed me that women could run the gamut of competence. My English teachers were 99% female. My science teachers were 99% female. My math teachers were in fact 100% female. Interestingly enough, my music and drama teachers were mostly male. And straight. So there went any kind of “heteronormative males can’t be interested in the performing arts” stereotype.

When it came to higher education, the faculty that taught me included both women and men with PhD’s. Most of the administrators at my school, both grade school and high school, were women. And what’s more, my school has had a 100% college acceptance rate for its graduating seniors since women were first allowed into college after my school’s inception in 1833.

So, I had a lot of role models. I saw adult women in positions of administrative and academic power and expertise. But my school also taught me that capability was not something I needed to look upward to find. I was shown that women are competent at any age and level of experience. When it came to student government, being at an all girls school, obviously, every single position was filled by one of my female cohorts. Our state-winning sports teams were entirely female. Our academic competition teams were entirely composed of females taught by mainly females, and we routinely routed out the all-boys schools we competed against. Our clubs, our plays, our every extra-curricular ever – they were run and attended by female students. I – and other students – even created clubs. We saw a need, we filled it. We problem-solved. We critically thought. We engineered. We created. We supported. We fought. In my sixty-seven person graduating class alone, one female student set a new record for the military entrance physical fitness test. Another went to West Point. And another to the Naval Academy. On the flip side, one of my friends deferred college for a year and prioritized full life experience and went to teach in Peru.

I lived in a world of intelligent, competent, caring, complex women. Sometimes we hated each other. Most of the time we at least got along, if not fiercely loved each other. Our views on love, sex, religion, politics, academics, sports, literature, really life in general were spattered across the board. But whatever happened between us, we knew it was because we were people, not “just” because we were women.

When I was still in grade school, I once asked my father on an election year if there were any female candidates. He told me that no, there weren’t, because women are naturally less good at being leaders than men.

That statement did not compute with small me’s view of the world. And to my school, I am incredibly grateful for that.

Oh yeah, I later ended up heading five clubs, creating a seventh-twelfth grade mentorship program, graduating as valedictorian, and becoming the first of my school’s students to go to Caltech.

I think I did all right on the leadership front.

Oh! And I do believe that next election, I’ll likely be voting for Hillary Clinton, very serious female Democratic presidential candidate.

Because the fact that she is female does not bother me.

Because I know that what her second sex chromosome is matters less than what she has shown of herself.

Because I know that women can be leaders.

Because I was raised a feminist.

I thank my fellow females for that.

The Writing Scent

4 Feb

frostbeard old book smell candle

So, I’ve known for a while that there are lovely, wonderful candles out there that smell like books. Old books, usually. And why I don’t currently possess even one of these candles, I have no idea.

But to smell like “books” is one thing – “books” have a faaaaairly defined scent, since it’s usually the lignin breaking down in the pages that people associate with the smell of old books and libraries and secondhand story-purveying stores.

old book smell lignin quote

To smell like “writing,” on the hand, is something completely different. That, I would argue, is something astounding.

And today, while wandering around Eagle Rock with my friend Kim (she’s super cool and pretty, by the way) in a quest to escape campus and become properly caffeinated (and in my case also further ignore oh-god-all-the-work I’ve got to do), we stopped into a store with the wonderful name MediaNoche. There, in addition to a ridiculously affectionate cat called Luxe that snuggled me for at least the first 30 minutes we were there, I happened to notice a set of candles – made locally in LA, of course :p – branding themselves Wicked.

And they smell like writing.

Specifically, the writing of particular authors. Each of the candles, apparently categorized as “negative space” candles by Wicked, pulled out the contrasting undertones of famous authors’ writing and turned them into scents.

For example, Jane Austen’s candle is entitled “Lovely + Decay” and emphasizes the scent of lavender, lily, and black tea. Oscar Wilde’s candle, “Lethargic + Warmth” combined bergamot, oak, and vanilla.

Both of them smelled like the writing perfectly.

I’m so impressed by Wicked candles. To pull out writers with particular styles of writing, manage to find two contrasting words that describes almost the whole of the authors’ work, and then find what combination of scents actually conveys the sense of those two words together – that’s ridiculously good. That’s art and science and reflection and creation.

And oh hey, did I mention that the candles also come in really cool glass containers with yet another fitting characteristic – this time in an image – in the glass?

Wicked Austen Candle

If I weren’t a poor-college-student-starving-artist-almost-graduate-needing-a-post-ug-job, I totally would have spent the $30ish dollars right then and there to bring one home. Probably after deliberating for another half an hour or so over which particular candle to buy.

Of course, I am currently accepting tribute, too… 😉

Aaaaanyhoo. Finding the candles also made me wonder – what would my writing smell like? What two words would create the representative negative space of my words?

There are so many of them. Words, that is. There are the words I post here, in my blog. There are the words in my memoir. The words in my poetry collections, both already and to-be published. There are the words I write for others, in my freelance jobs. There are the words, tucked into neat 140-ish character statements and stories and poems on Twitter. There are the words in the fiction manuscripts still hiding in folders on my computer or neuronal connections in my brain. There are the words in my journals and 750words.com entries. There are the words I write on post-it notes, some of which I keep and bring with me through move after move after move, while others I throw in the trash a month or a year or a college-education-span later. The words others know I’ve said. The words I’ll never let anyone ever know I’ve thought, that I’ll hide away in the dark recesses of pages or hard drive storage space.

What would my words smell like? What would my candle be?

Participating

29 Dec

“I don’t know if I will have the time to write any more letters because I might be too busy trying to participate” – Charlie, The Perks of Being a Wallflower

I saw this movie for the first time tonight. Most of it, anyway. Enough to understand the important parts.

And of course, I cried at the end. Not just because the end of the movie is meant to take your heart and jerk it in several different directions at once. But because the end, especially the end, that wasn’t just a movie for me. I tried to make light of it, throwing out comments like “that’s a damn nice psych ward room.”

But that’s because internally, I wasn’t seeing Charlie’s cozy room. Internally, I was seeing my psych ward rooms. The ones that I spent too many days in last year. Over a year ago now, actually. It’s strange, that those days, the most bruised ones I’ve garnered in life, are so far away now. It’s been a year. It’s over. I’m free.

But I remember the days when I wasn’t. I have notebooks, drawers of them, filled with pages and pages of those days when I was not participating but was just trying to survive – or, slowly letting go of the idea that I would. My life is there, on those wrinkled and worn and smudged notebook sheets. I couldn’t bear physicality, so I existed, put myself into letters.

Because I needed a way for my narrative to be important.

And so it’s there, years of myself, scribbled down in journal entries and poems and short stories. Years where I left marks of myself in metaphor and analogy. Years where I could only be a silent girl, inked into existence.

In the end, they were all letters. Some of them were addressed as letters to God. But in the end, they were all really letters to me.

I forgot to pack those notebooks with me for my trips this holiday. Well, not quite “forgot”… I didn’t even think about doing it in the first place.

Because I don’t live my life in those notebooks anymore.

Now, I am participating.