Friday, January 27, 2012

My First Poem for Class

As I've mentioned before on this blog, I'm taking a class called Creative Process and Imaginative Writing which is trying to mold a poet out of me.  My friend Michelle insists that I already am a good poet, but writing silly rhymes about coworkers at the movie theater is not really a definitive example of poetry. The poems I'm reading in class are all so artfully crafted, and there's really so much about the form that I don't know and don't yet appreciate, that calling myself a poet just seems ludicrous.

That being said, I am enjoying the challenge of writing poetry for a more critical audience... especially my teacher who is not afraid to point out all of the many faults that my poems seem to be full of.  He equates harsh criticism to telling a friend they have spinach in their teeth.  While workshopping the following poem in class, he found the entire first stanza to be full of spinach.  Mostly he thought it was too vague, which I can see now.  He found the imagery in the second stanza to be more concrete and he enjoyed how "of heat" was mirrored with "burned."  He also liked that those two lines broke the form of what is otherwise an exercise in accentual-alliterative verse .

Some of you who've been reading the excerpts from my novel might recognize that this poem was mostly pulled from the first paragraph of Chapter 2.  It might sound like cheating, but one of the suggestions for writing poems is to write your ideas in prose and then mold them into a poem.  Besides, what my professor doesn't know can't hurt him!

Jack Garcia

Summer’s stay,
                                with sexual fervor,
Soaked her body
                                with sun-kissed sweat.
Radiant rays
                                of resplendent sun
Warmed her
                                in wild waves
Of heat.

Summer’s stay,
                                surprisingly fleeting,
Steps aside
                                surrendering to Fall.
Living leaves
                                are left to lie
Dead and broken,
                                decaying in dirt.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Anyone Can Whistle

Anyone can whistle, that's what they say... easy.
Anyone can whistle, any old day... easy.
It's all so simple.
Relax, let go, let fly.
So someone tell me, why can't I?

I can dance a tango, I can read Greek... easy.

I can slay a dragon, any old week... easy.

What's hard is simple.
What's natural comes hard.
Maybe you could show me how to let go,
Lower my guard,
Learn to be free.
Maybe if you whistle,
Whistle for me. 

Stephen Sondheim's song "Anyone Can Whistle" is simple and beautiful.  If you've never heard it, I suggest you look it up on the internet and give it a listen.  Pure magic.

I have a confession to make, however.  I do not know how to whistle.  Nope.  Not even a little bit.  Unless you count blowing through the kind of whistle gym teachers have hanging around their necks.  Even then it's a stretch because I don't like getting that close to gym teachers.  They smell like B.O. and have constant sweat stains in the weirdest places.  Like around their belly buttons.  But whistling with just my own two lips... no can do.  Not even if I stick my fingers in my mouth.  I just look like an idiot trying to eat his hand.

At least the singer of the song can do other things besides whistle.  He can dance a tango, read Greek and even slay a dragon.  I'm telling you, if I had the strength and agility to slay a fire-breathing mythical beast I sure wouldn't care at all that I couldn't whistle.  Just saying.  Me, however...  I can't do any of those other things either!  And it got me thinking.  Just how many "easy" things can I not do?

Unfortunately, quite a lot.  I compiled a list.

Things Jack Can't Do that Other People Can
  • Whistle
  • Dance
  • Read Greek
  • Slay dragons
  • Cook
  • Eat with chopsticks
  • Blow a bubblegum bubble
  • Ice skate (or ski or snowboard)
  • Roller skate (or roller blade or skateboard)
  • Swim
  • Swallow pills
  • Drive a manual car
  • Parallel park
  • Basic math
  • Play an instrument
  • Throw or catch (or anything involving sports)
  • Do the Star Trek hand thingy
I'm sure the list goes on and on, but another thing I'm not good at is making lists.  Halfway through I started listing off U.S. states because I forgot what I was listing.  I eventually remembered and deleted them all, but it was still embarrassing.  Four hours later after browsing Pinterest and cleaning my room I came back to the list and decided it was good enough.

Perhaps the lyric "Maybe you could show me how to let go, lower my guard, learn to be free" has something to do with my lack of abilities.  My fear and trepidation of failing at things and embarrassing myself impede me from trying a lot of things.  Heck, I didn't even know how to pee standing up until I was in my late teens!

That part was a joke.  Or was it?

This year, my resolution is to try to do more things that are outside of my comfort zone.  I won't ask for a fork when I'm at a Japanese restaurant.  Maybe I'll take Brian's car for a lesson in a nearby parking lot.  Somebody could throw me in an ocean and shout, "Doggy paddle for your life, Jack!  Do it or drown!"

And who knows?  With the proper attitude, maybe I can whistle.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

"Jack" in the Urban Dictionary

At work we find many ways to entertain ourselves.  Sometimes we make inappropriate comments and then laugh like fools.  Sometimes we mock the ridiculous hairstyles of the people passing by in the mall or gossip with the kiosk folk or try out dance moves that look more or less like we're driving our car through a Subway restaurant.  Watch out for the flying lettuce and hot pastrami!

And when we're tired of dancing and talking and judging and laughing we sell us some diamonds!  Ha ha... who am I kidding?  Like we sell anything... We may not sell a lot of diamonds, but we sure like to look up random things on the internet via our smartphones.  Yesterday, for example, we felt the need to see what our names meant according to the Urban Dictionary.  Not familiar with the Urban Dictionary?  Well, you probably live somewhere rural then.  Like under a rock.  It's basically the greatest website ever that helps white people feel cool by teaching them the meaning of slang.

My name's definition gave me quite the boost of confidence and, over-the-top compliments aside, was fairly accurate in the description of my personality.  I've decided to share it with you.  Behold:
Jack -
A very intellectual, insightful man with the most honest heart.
His intentions and words are always well intended and he has the sexiest eyes in the whole world.
If you ever argue with a 'Jack' he will for sure make a "jackass" out of YOU.
He always thinks ahead and see's the bigger picture. He hates fighting/arguing (yawn) because it's boring to him, but he will always win because he plays by his own rules.
His morality is strong and he's as dependable as a solid rock. A guy you can count on. Loves meeting new people where ever he goes. Loves freedom. Hates being conformed. Won't change for anyone and wont expect you to change either.
Highly independant. Likes to use his head. And its a very powerful one..very brilliant. Humble.  Funny.  Won't lie.
Pretty awesome, huh?  I apologize for the rough grammar, but Urban Dictionary is too cool for grammar.  And do you want an example of how to use "Jack" in a sentence?
Jack is the sexiest guy ever.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

First Day of My Second Semester

Not being one hundred percent sure where my class was, I made sure to leave the house early enough to get to UVU's campus fifteen minutes early to scope it out.  Turns out the cold makes me walk faster and I got there with twenty minutes to spare.  It also turns out that I only needed two or three minutes to find the classroom, so I had quite a lot of time to kill.

I didn't want to be "that kid" who was sitting in class super early, so instead I sat in a nearby chair in the hallway.  The halls were pretty bustling and out of the blue I saw my friend and old coworker Dyann coming at me with her trademark grin.  It was fun to see her outside of her Cinemark uniform and we chatted it up for a little bit.  She had just gotten out of a Shakespeare class, which intrigued me, and she begged for me to take it with her.  I would have, but the class was offered as a Humanities credit and I already transferred in with a million of those.  I'm taking strictly English major courses now.

While we're on the topic of courses, my first class that morning was Critical Introduction to Literature.  Several of the students in the class were familiar faces from British Literature last semester, so that was kind of nice.  It helped me to feel a bit more at ease, since the first day of school always gets my stomach in a knot.  You'd think I'd be used to it by now.

The teacher seemed nice enough, albeit very strict.  She comes from Germany but has lived in the states for half her life now.  She has an accent which I find intriguing and a good sense of humor, but when it comes to absences and cell phones, she's a complete Nazi (which might not be the most appropriate comparison to draw given her nationality).  If a student misses more than three class periods they fail the course!  And if your phone goes off or she catches you texting, she'll confiscate your phone.

"And if it's an iPhone," she added with a wink, "lucky for me!"

The course material seems like it might be more than I can chew, so let's pray my mental capacity grows within the next few days.  We are exploring Franz Kafka's short story The Metamorphosis all semester long, but approaching it from no less than nine different literary theories such as Liberal Humanism, Structuralism and even Lesbian/Gay Criticism.  Pray for me, people.  Pray for me.

One of the girls from my Brit Lit class (and by "girl" I really mean "woman" because she's a married mother in her early thirties) sat in front of me and we made little small comments and jokes to one another during the class.  Her name is Liz and we talked about the courses we were signed up for this semester and discovered we had the next class together as well, so we decided we should be friends.  On our way to Creative Process and Imaginative Writing, we told each other our life stories which conveniently took as long to tell as two flights of stairs took to descend.

That class period was spent going over our names mostly.  Our professor pointed to one of us and asked us to say our name, major, hometown and hobbies.  As each new person was introduced, our professor would run through the names he'd already learned, committing them to memory.  The process took longer and longer as more and more students had been introduced and I was surprised that thirty minutes had gone by in that fashion.  One benefit of the long introduction is that I'm fairly confident I know the names of everyone else as well.  Usually I hate introductions like that, but it wasn't so bad this time, although I always struggle with which hometown to attach myself to.  I've moved too many times!

Anyway, in the last ten minutes the professor went over the syllabus and that's when I discovered that half of the semester will be devoted to poetry-writing.  I'm not much of a poet, so this should be interesting.  We will also be anonymously workshopping our writing quite a lot, which I feel will be very useful.  My friends, God love them, are always very positive and only ever give me words of praise... so I'm looking forward to a taste of what strangers have to say about my work!

I'm only taking two classes so my school day ended there.  My new class buddy Liz loaned me a quarter I was short so I could take the bus to Provo and go to work for nine hours.  With work, classes, commutes and homework I don't know how I'll find time for the gym or for Brian or for blogging or for my novel or for sleeping or for anything at all really.  Again, I say pray for me, people.  Please pray.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

A Gay Ol' Time with the Cousins!

I guess it's true when they say "misery loves company" because it can be really lonely being the only one hated in the family.  I sometimes wish that I had a gay cousin or aunt or even a family pet to share my sorrows with.  You know, to feel my pain and understand what I'm going through.  Unfortunately, I am the only black sheep in my family so there's no sympathy coming my way.  Well, I guess I'm not the only black sheep, but I'm the only gay black sheep, because let's face it, even those who've gone to jail for having a meth lab in their kitchen are held in higher esteem than I am.

Brian, however, is lucky.  He has a gay cousin on each side of the family.  On the Barrus side is his cousin Patrick, a really fun guy who lives in Logan and who is currently preparing to backpack across Europe.  He's seriously cool.  He's come down to visit us several times recently, the most recent visit being on Thursday night.  He and his friend Ellen were in town and they came over after Brian's company party.  We stayed up all night discussing politics and books and movies, and it was refreshing to talk with people of similar viewpoints.  I'm really grateful to know Patrick.

On the Kesler side is Brian's cousin Brett.  We recently discovered that Brett was even in the area (he had been living in Washington) when we went to the Bath and Body Works next door to the Zales I work at.  Who knew we were work neighbors?  I decided that it would be cool to get to know Brett, so Brian and I took him out to dinner and a movie on Friday night.  We ate at Yamato's and while I struggled with my chopsticks, we got to know that Brett writes music, plays the piano and is very funny.  Later we killed some time at Barnes & Noble before catching the late show of the new Steven Spielberg movie War Horse, which was surprisingly better than I thought it would be.  We all had a great time and hope to get together again soon.

With Patrick and Brett, we feel like we have something in common that binds us together.  We understand what it's like to be misunderstood and judged.  We can assure one another that everything will be okay and that life is still worth living.  In short, we can just be ourselves and have a gay ol' time!

And to those out there reading this, just remember that there is more to sheep than the color of their wool.  Take the time to notice.

Monday, January 2, 2012

New Year, New Laptop!

My friend Rebecca suggested doing a fundraiser to get me a new computer, but luckily that won't be necessary.  Brian and I had a fair amount of money put aside in our savings account, so today while I was at work, Brian went and got us a new laptop.  And do you know what the best part is?  We still have money in savings!  Yay!

I'm pretty excited about it, as you can see from this cheesy photo:

Yep, that's me with the new laptop!  This one is an HP mumbo jumbo with blah blah capabilities and stuff I don't know.  But it's all shiny and new!  That's what really matters!  Actually, it functions which is what really really matters.  It also has a built-in camera and Skype pre-installed which is exciting... my old computer didn't have a camera.  And this laptop can actually run without being plugged in!  My last one died after about five minutes of being unplugged, but this one actually has a good battery in it!  I mean, in him.  Maybe in her.

Is our new laptop a boy or a girl?  I haven't thought about that.  And what should we name him/her?

Any suggestions?  I would love to hear them!


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