Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Calling all writers!

Dear friends,

I have a terrifically simple idea that is making me stupidly excited.  I'm now four years gone from my thesis writing; a frenzied semester of coffee shops, writer meet-ups, and frantic scribbling.  I'm happy to be where I am in my life now, but I really miss having a community of writers around me to  inspire, challenge, edit, talk books, and drink coffee/wine with.  I miss the coffee house culture, the long evenings spent with laptops touching back to back and postal service playing in the background for inspiration (I'm thinking of you, Sarah N. and Travis V!). 

I'm lucky to have several friends with whom I have writerly exchanges over email, sometimes with longer gaps in between stories sent.  They don't live in the Twin Cities however, and I regret not being able to interact with them face to face.  Their support is sometimes the only force propelling me forward and causing me to challenge myself. 

My idea is to form a Twin Cities micro-community of writer-friends who do exactly that: support and challenge each other.  It's really powerful to physically sit next to a like-minded friend who is doing exactly what you are doing; yanking words, sentences, and images from their brains into typed or written word.  Feeling that energy and focus can often make one more productive than if they were writing alone. 

A beatboxing artist told me yesterday that the key to mastering any art (or at least improving at it) is repetition.  He was returning from the restroom and I noticed that he was beatboxing under his breath as he walked back to the classroom.  He lives his art right up to the very mundane moments of life.  It's become part of his stride, his breath, his daily patterns.   Right, I've heard that, and I know it, but it still stuck with me.  Of course.  Of course it's hard to just sit down and write randomly in the middle of the week and expect good results and easy flow.  It's something that requires practice, repetition, consistency. 

I propose the start of Writerday.  It's a day of the week, like any other.  It's a day started or ended with a few hours of solid focus, creativity, and of course, writing.  Hopefully around a coffee table, grassy knoll, or bar with other like-minded friends.  I'm thinking that the best day for Writerday would be Saturday.  Perhaps starting in the late morning and lasting for several hours, or however long it takes to get some writing out.  I want to make it consistent and around the same time every week so that I gain some muscle memory whenever I sit down with a computer or notepad on that day.  Writerday does not have to be an all-day affair.  Saturday will still also be heard and respected, and indulged in.  I just want to start that day off every week with a specific mindset and focus and community that supports and challenges me to simply write more.  It would also be a great way to get out on a Saturday and see more of the cities, take walks, eat delicious food, and see each other.

Any interest or feedback? Is Saturday a good day for this?

Love and Lunch,
Ilse

Friday, July 5, 2013

Dear America


Dear America,

 6 months back as your resident, as a pedestrian to your streets, an observer to your rituals, a face in your crowd, I have a lot of questions.  How is it that your history has been rewritten and immortalized in colorful school textbooks when its omissions scream silently from the sidelines?  How is it that a country like you can still have sidelines? 

We prize ourselves on liberty, justice, freedom, in a country where we imprison and alienate many.  Our prisons are overflowing.  Our schools are failing.  Our children are divided.  We have accomplished little on this day besides setting some things on fire.  We are on fire.  Dear America, killer of nations, imprisoner, slave-holder, rapist—your many ‘accomplishments’ belie the true nature of things.  A country of convenience, we have covered up a litany of crimes against humanity.   We have conveniently written entire communities out of our history.  It’s not convenient to remember these things.  We raise our white privileged children well.  They learn about Benjamin Franklin and George Washington, the first of many white men who take front and center in American history.  If you want to learn about African Americans, there is an alternative class you can take at university, but until then, you won’t see people of color as makers of history, as people who breathed life into communities, who struggled and saved and loved and cried tears into the rivers of the Midwest and the deltas of the south.  As people who lived.  As the Native American people who were clawed, murdered, and torn out of their native land.  America, we are liars.  History isn’t a book, or a page you can turn or rip out.   History is us, and is written into our daily interactions, into our income, into our relationships, and into our quality of life. 

I’m so goddamn ashamed of you, America.  Ashamed of me.  Our history is not a complicated one.  It’s main theme;  the othering and subjugation of others.  It’s the only story our America has.  Since the raising of the smoky and bloody star spangled banner to the fireworks and beer of yesterday, it’s our only story.  If we want to tell it the way we have, with only white Europeans starring front and center, then it will always be a story of murder and oppression.  Until we change the uniquely narrow view that we frame our world around, America will be a place purely framed off of acts of genocide and slavery. 

On the other hand, if we start America’s story thousands of years ago, we would have different sort of history altogether.  A tapestry of stories about a land inhabited and worshipped by thousands of families until. 

Until.  And that’s when our America comes in. 

If we aren’t careful, Americans, we will always be the bad news to come after ‘until.’  We will always provide the rupture, the tear, the trauma in others lives.  There’s nothing remotely impressive or noteworthy about July 4th.  For most people, it was just another day to watch family members die at the hands of white Europeans, and another day to lose their former freedom and life. 

These borders are carved in loss and violence.  What freedom we have is not shared by all. 

Instead of seeing every fourth of July as a day to wear patriotic colors and wave flags, lets try to make it a day of discussion and reflection.  It’s an easy day for complacence, but the only way things will ever get better for communities of color is if we shake off that complacence and stop teaching out of the same history books we all learned from.  We need a massive paradigm shift in the way we choose to remember our nation, and the way we choose to frame ourselves in the story.  We should all grow up feeling connected to America’s past, whether it’s our past as slavers and imperialists, or our past as native people.  It is what happened and it is what we as communities wrought upon others. We all have convenient stories of ancestors immigrating to America a hundred years ago, long after the civil war, long after slavery, long after the trail of tears…we all have safe dates.  Those dates don’t matter.  We aren’t exempt.  We are all implicit in the very fact that racism, oppression, and slavery still exist to this day.  We can’t say things are better or that there is freedom until it is that way for all people in America.  We can’t change the past.  We can however change the way we tell our story as Americans, as a start, in hopes that if we tell the true story it can help us move towards rewriting the part we are in now. 

Monday, July 1, 2013

Infinite


We talk of cultures around the world, enviously, as if we have lost ours somewhere far in the past.  Not remembering, that to live is to have a culture.  We have our personal cultures and our family cultures and our national cultures.  I’m working on my own now.  I’m an intricate archeological dig of my past, my ancestors, my interests, my friends,  my peculiarities, my love, my hope, my present.  Every day I work to uncover more of myself until someday I will unfold completely into a heavenly shape with a divine ratio of surface area to volume.  Love in, love out. Love in, love out.   

I want to wrap myself, like a fat vine, around the experiences and living things around me.  I want to sit on a shady bench and observe what goes by for hours.  I’m hungry for friendship these days.  Like a satisfying growl in my stomach, I feel content with my friends.  I long for them, but I enjoy them when they are around, too.  I’m crazy about what they do and how they smile.  I’m here to exchange love with others and act like a complete doofus along the way.  I’m also here to be introspective, silent, watchful, at peace.  I’m here to make decisions that are neither good nor bad but strange and of my making, and see how the universe reacts.  I’m here to admire, dance, smile, and seek.  I’m here to dissolve boundaries and categories and expectations and color outside of the lines.  I have never understood the importance of adhering to these things.  Everyone gets around in their own way and sees different scenery along the way.  I want to hear about the stories that world has, the stories a single human holds within them, the sound of summer at night.  We have such rich cultures within us. 

I once formed a small but essential part of a dinosaur’s tail.  My atoms were there, and I facilitated the slow swinging, the sacred sense of balance that a tail provides.  A long-neck dinosaur, with its thick grace and large eyes.  I was there.  Everyone else was, too.  We were different but still us.  We’ve passed through so many forms of ourselves, so many different rearrangements of our molecules.  We have been here since there was a here.  We’ve been humble plants, elegant animals, sad humans.  We’ve been dirt and air-bound and eggplant.  We have such memories that it’s a blessing we can’t access all of them.  We are part of each other and inseparable from each other.  What a relief to remember on days of stagnant selfish  ipad isolation.  We are each other and we are ourselves.  I don’t have a good sense of balance now---I stumble clumsily throughout my life---but it’s a relief to realize that I once provided an essential element of balance in a single dinosaur’s life as it lumbered its large feet over dusty ground. 

 

You are infinite. 

Also, HAPPY PRIDE WEEKEND!