Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Lit Rehab: Learning after Education

You could say that my senior year of college was my first real experience with hitting walls that confronted and disarmed my reality, made me into someone I was not. It was a test of integrity between societal conformity and self-preservation, trying to find that crevice wherein I could link my passion with what I was forced to do, to dispel monotony and complete a task I normally hated in a way that I could bear it. Ah, academics. It was in these months that I would lose the thick of myself, the core of my passions tossed aside for the sake of a finishing line. Rather than enjoying reading, it became “how many more pages do I have until I finish this?” Rather than write freely, I tensely stared at the new open Microsoft Word document that glared me down like an executioner.

I realized my dilemma with reading and writing became an intricate series of cause and effects, about how dangerous and simultaneously safe the academic world is. While I love learning, and would certainly consider myself a scholar – I’ve always loathed school and many people can’t understand that distinction. But it was in that distinction I lost myself, to be redundant: I was trained in my Alpha Female fashion, in the way Pavlov would know best – every book became a bell hitting an internal alarm, every phrase sought an answer to an essay question. I’d propel myself towards projects, wanting to read numerous books when I only had time for one. As time churned away, my migraines increased and my patience decreased – and I sabotaged the things I loved for a grade, to keep honors status, to graduate early.

Did the ends justify the means?

It is months later, and my head is still reeling in tension, searching for a deadline that was once there yet no longer visible – a self-inflicted worry. Every book is latched to a judgment, a due date, worrying for my future every time I pick up a book. To turn the things I love into a verifiable career, master’s thesis, time is ticking – you’re 21 and you haven’t accomplished enough yet.

I remember how I sought books for their imaginative refuge - to make me whole, to fulfill the honest yet unheard parts of myself I felt were threatened that needed some sort of knowledge hearth to supplement the insecurity. I sought liberation. And I think of people I know in prison right now, famous people I’ve known of that have been imprisoned in the past, and even the fictional manifestations of this situation – real: Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, fictional: V for Vendetta. How literature serves as a tool for imaginative escapism at first, but eventually transforms into a mode for realistic escape – an empowerment, a tool for enrichment. It was in watching V for Vendetta that the irony struck me – how I became a prisoner in a different way, perhaps the way society would want me. Manageable.

For, besides reading troubles, the academic system had also managed to destroy my creative writing by destroying the source: my emotions became completely unsafe. By attempting to follow the system and get things done as quickly as possible, my emotions imploded upon themselves within my last year of undergraduate studies, and then slowly burned out more and more. I had realized that in order for me to get through the rest of college, I needed to stop caring.

My emotional schema has changed dramatically from the impact. I’ve become more aloof, solid, and motionless. Angry – direct and focused instead of bottled in and unruly. It cuts at the source of everything, but runs deep in every single capillary. I seek to micromanage my emotions, a simultaneously soft and jagged form of sorrow. I touch my emotions enough to know they’re there, but not firmly enough to unleash them. I’m not comfortable enough to share. I splinter off and carry the thought that my own dilemmas are my own and are useless for talking about unless others share the grief currently, unless it can be used constructively, for good and healing. I’ve retreated to a world that is as hollow as a clock, listening to the mechanisms churn while the surroundings change correspondingly. I live so quietly now. I do not seek to argue my life to others as I find it hard to justify my own notions – not because they aren’t valid, but because I know they are things no one wants to hear, and that they will bat it out of their heads because it makes them uncomfortable.

I let others live their lives as I live my own. I exist in a self-imposed solitude. Writing exposes vulnerability, seeks empathy – I keep a safe distance from both of those things now, and maybe that’s the dilemma, the incapability of wanting to describe the slow, dissolving crush of reality upon a tiny human, one speck in the universe, trying to make a positive difference upon our very humanity. And so I only argue the facts, the struggles worth fighting for more than the justification of my only life – I stand firm behind on feminism, and advocate for sexual assault survivors – these issues are bigger than me, and I will not let them be denied voices. Does this imply I’ve let myself be silence and denied? I’m not really sure.

John Gatto, author of “Weapons of Mass Instruction: A Schoolteacher's Journey Through the Dark World of Compulsory Schooling”, would likely find this hilarious and perilous – a well-meaning girl who loves books and challenging authority can no longer read without getting stressed, and thus does not read. How I was regimented out of feeling and writing. How true education became dismantled, wherein learning became trite rather than rebellious, and facts fell into the background as I did not learn them. The standardization and regimentation became the perfect weapon towards dissolving me as it does other potential activists and radicals. In his book "Weapons of Mass Instruction," he argues the point that the current educational system is in fact designed to dumb us down. And arguably, many newspapers have recently reported the decline of creativity. It is not hard to imagine why: I can report firsthand that it’s hard to attempt the psychological unraveling of core anxiety responses. To now turn towards my bookshelves full of unread books and think: “How can I make you safe again?” It makes me nervous that they’ve been able to take away my books from me psychologically, make them inaccessible. So what is left?

“Lit Rehab,” I joke to a friend – a slow progression back towards the literary and creative extensions of my root passions and motivations. It begins slowly: I can now write personal blog entries… which is a step up from being stuck in the groove of academic papers (although very far from actual journal entries and creative writing), I can now read 6 pages of a book/a long article in a newspaper/other blog entries – which is substantially better than panicking and not even touching a book, right? I make minimalistic attempts, I remind myself to breathe. I dance, I sing, I try to imagine taking the world by storm, I tell myself: imagine their reactions if I was full of breath, if I was truly living through passions. How easy the rebellion in educating yourself is: the power I could bring to the world by educating myself on the things that matter to me most. I try to overcome the fear slowly – write a little bit everyday until the emotions kept inside unwind upon the page, pick up a book of quotes to read – small bites of inspiring witticisms to consume. It is trying to learn, once again, for learning’s sake.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

you have eye contact, but there's no emotion in your eyes. the question is though, why modeling?

I can't tell if this is the same person who initially commented on my modeling or not, but regardless, I'm both disconcerted by your comment/question and compelled to thank you for bringing it up. It forces me to deal with something uncomfortable in several ways. I thought about what my answer to this question was before I even went to type it out. My initial thought response felt a bit jarring to me.

1. "Because emotion doesn't have a place in modeling." 2. "Because then I'd be vulnerable."

I'll address number 2 first.

I think why I've always preferred writing is how emotion can remain so recklessly contained. I could control it while simultaneously feeling untamed. For years I hated myself for my intense emotions, until a person stepped into my life and really made me realize the value of them. Until then, I found that I always felt the need to wrangle them back in. And I have no trouble expressing them in personal relationships, as I once did. I suppose, though, it doesn't however remove the sentiment that I have trouble expressing emotions physically, confessing them in a way that could be captured and viewed or heard (singing). It triggers something deeper. Because I know I'm a landmine. And if I were to show my emotions lately, it'd be more hurt and anger more than anything else - the emotion lining the double-edged sword of my delusional amount of hope for myself and this world.

Within the past year, I grew more distanced from my emotions due to the fact that as I became more engrossed in academia, as I tried to fight for what I believed in - the more I held myself out there hopefully, the more the world sought to shoot me down. For every "delusional" burst of hope I provided, backed even with statistical facts, people sought to tell me all the reasons I'd fail. While trying to repeatedly tell myself that those who have failed at their dreams will attempt to make me fail at mine (because misery loves company and there are too many jealous people who don't want to see others succeed when they can't), I began tucking the most intimate parts of myself deep inside myself. I stopped reading for months and months, I stopped writing creatively, I became afraid to sing - I kept waiting, apprehensively, for people to continue to take away from me what I loved. I've learned time and time again how making your emotions open lends you to vulnerability and manipulation. So, I've been hibernating and growing stronger and am slowly emotionally unraveling, now setting all the building blocks to take the world by storm.

So, you're right, perhaps I should find some more photographers to explore a range of emotions with. Especially because that's how I ended up getting into modeling to begin with.

"Why modeling?"

You could call it an exercise in physical therapy honestly. I began Rolfing sessions (structural integration) the same summer in order to due with the strong disconnect I had with my body due to prior trauma. My dissociation was beginning to infest all the areas of my life - I couldn't make it to classes some morning because my knee would randomly give out, or my shoulder would allocate so much pain from taut muscles I thought I'd dislocated it, or I'd get triggered and curl into the fetal position; my love life would splinter as I'd splinter out of my body from one intimate touch from a guy; and it was brought to my attention I was routinely starving and dehydrating myself without realizing it. I began to realize how frequently and severely I was tuning my body out, how I was treating it as just a means to an end, a vessel. I used modeling as an excuse and an exercise to pay more attention to my body and take care of it further.

However, this brings me to the other disturbing thought - thought number 1. I didn't realize I'd gotten so wayward in the year of modeling I've done that I didn't even realize my thoughts were morphing. While my thought certainly does not apply to all forms of modeling, it applies to one of the types I'd gotten sucked into - fashion modeling. An intriguing jump from the "nude in nature" modeling which I started out with. I could go on a rant about typical fashion modeling in society, but I'll save it - because it's all very obvious and has been said before. But if you really want to get into my thoughts on modeling - personal versus societal, I suppose you could always ask me.

Ask me anything

Saturday, September 4, 2010

"That's So Gay" is NOT okay

So. I just happened to be looking up season 1 of Glee on Amazon.com because I'm mildly obsessed with it lately, and would really like to purchase the whole season. For some reason, I perused the reviews - maybe because I say 50+ reviews for a product that hasn't even technically been released yet... and I found a review that caught my eye:

"Ok its time to get something off my chest.
WHAT is wrong with people these days???????????
If you like this show your:

A. a teenage girl
B. have horrible taste in telivision (not that theres anything worth watching anyway)
C. a high school muical fan

This show is sooooooo stupid, no lie. Who likes this? How ?
Yesss to those who say I haven't seen the show with my own two eyes, I have. Unfortunatly I wish I had the 30 mins of my life back. Braking out into a sing a long every other second over nothing hmmmmm is this a Disney movie ................. I think not at least those are entertaining. The characters are not likeable at all, its just so built for this sad young generation its not even funny. This generation has the worst taste in just about everything :


And Iam 24 its not like Iam to far behind this generation but its just so pathetic.
Horrible show I would not watch another episode if I was paid to.
ANYONE with half a brain will steer clear of this shamockry of a show!!!"

Aside from the ridiculous amount of grammar and spelling errors, the implication that this show was horrible and ergo could only be liked by certain demographics such as "GAY," made me livid. Because it implied that every demographic listed was horrible or not worthy of value, ergo worth putting down - ergo turning "Gay," yet again, into an insult. When it shouldn't be. Ever. In a sense, listing "teenage girl" in the same insulting matter is just as bad. But "Gay" hit a trigger in me. I have a huge handful of friends that are gay, and they are perfectly wonderful people - more wonderful than most people, I would say, if only because they have to learn to confront hostility with kindness and are frequently forced to justify their sexual preference, which should not ever have to be justified to begin with. Love is love, and placing restrictive gender norms on it is foolish. Hating a person for a part of him/herself that he/she is intrinsically born with, just because it may be different from the norm, is ridiculous. To put it lightly. And then to use that difference to describe other things you can't deal with/don't like is even worse. It's sheer ignorance.

I'm essentially incoherently angry right now, so this blog entry isn't a very educated or well-thought attempt and perhaps I should leave it for Wanda Sykes to explain, because I feel she does it quite well:

And just to further my point and be increasingly obnoxious to the reviewer who will likely never see this blog post, I will conclude with a clip from Glee that is very appropriate to this situation:

Haters gonna hate.