Control by the controlled.

I spend a lot of time observing. Wether it is in my classes or out on the quad, or in a library I am constantly watching. At times it is a good thing- I generally notice dangers far sooner than my companions (always watching, knowing that there are 14 other subway riders and what their focus seems to be on may have come in handy) but really I just see what you see and analyze it differently. So while you spend as much time looking out the window at the trees being carefully trimmed, I see something so much more involved.

There is a man, dressed in a reflective vest and large well covering hat trimming the taller branches of the trees that line a road in full view from my third story perch. The trees are there for beauty, meticulously planted in a row so as to be aesthetically  pleasing, which they are of course. Even in Florida the leaves are beginning to turn from chlorophyl dyed  green to their more resigned yellows and browns.

But why must they be trimmed? Tress have a short list of what they do, at least when viewed from the perspective of the fleeting life of my humanity. They grow, and continue to grow upwards towards the clouds they so wish to mingle with(or I would like to imagine). Their latitude only branches out marginally compared to their rocketing height. Yet here this man is, trimming the few spindly limbs that have grown so courageously past their counterparts. In a quick snip, all their energy exerted for the betterment of their collective unit is dashed. No more branches allowed for leaves, no more leaves for increased photosynthesis.

But this casual observation about needless horticulture isn’t my primary focus. It is the man doing the trimming. This is Florida, and he is landscaping wearing the trappings of an immigrant. I could be wrong, but this is a stereotype I think may exist for a reason- there are a lot of horrendously underpaid usually illegal immigrants who landscape all around Tampa at least.

So here he is, a man that at any given time could lose his lot in life, thanks to a DEA agent, an uncaring boss, or a plethora of other horribly unscrupulous reasons. He is controlled with no input into his life. He has few if any options in life, few ways to earn a meager living, no security in homestead or job. And still he continues his work under the temperamental sun, controlling the adolescent tree himself. The irony was not lost on me. This man, entirely controlled by forces he could not hope to manipulate is controlling a tree which shares his same fate. Control by the controlled.

I wish for both of their freedoms. For the man to find stability, or whatever he may want in life(I cannot assume he wants the stability my mind would think he desires) so that he may prosper and achieve. I wish for the tree to be able to expand beyond his trimmed facade and grow as best it sees fit. Overall I want both parties to be given the freedom they so instinctively yearn for.

In the meantime, they will both struggle. The tree will grow its branches toward the life giving star closest to it, and the landscaper will tear down the trees literally lofty pursuits. I can only hope one day they burst through their confines and reach ever higher physical and emotional heights.

Slammed

I went to a poetry slam. It was the first time I had heard spoken poetry in any form since I won some pitied award for my poetry in eighth grade(that I had actually written a year before that only to plagiarize from later), where we all shared our prose. I remember myself as I am now- quiet, hesitant, distant. I spoke my poem about the dwindling life of lightning and sat down.

This was different. A few poets spoke from something written on a napkin or phone, but most had everything memorized. A mic, a small backlit stage and their expressioned body and voice were all that was there to entertain.  One green poet followed another. One wonderfully expressed thought followed another. Their bodies quivered, lips jumbled words, hearts pounded- but messages resounded.

The last round had begun, a poet stood in front of us. He was my age, a lanky young man who drowned in a large hoodie. Hands in his pocket he began. As the poem lifted off his hands did. In moments he destroyed placation and turned to boundless expression. Hands motioned, body stirred, rising and dipping as only his emotions could control. His hand beat his chest, a hollow thud resounded with his words. Only short minutes passed, I think, and it was all over. He waited for nothing, the applause and cheers that followed we heard by a mic on a stand and the curtain behind, no more. He was down the isle quicker than I thought possible, bounded down in two steps to hide behind a wall. It was beautiful. Taken as it was no one seated was left unmoved. I felt something too- and my always unresponsive emotion self did something surprising-  tears flowed down my cheeks.

The why to this response was not his poem entirely, but how it related to me. He asked “If you were to steal something from inside of you, what would it be?”. He pulled on his deepest emotions, why he found no comfort in someone his own race, and why he had convinced his girlfriend to abort their child, and do so again. He had stolen his love of his mate, and forced her to give up and in doing so push her away from him, and the life his adolescent brain couldn’t confront, and accept.

I was adopted. I could have easily not have existed thanks to reasoned logic. Logic I think that I follow. This is why I cried, why I felt so much more than this damn body, hands, voice can ever effectively articulate but I will try.

I know the statistics, I know how terrible a life can be for someone who is born into a life from parents who aren’t ready. 15 year olds cannot support a kid, they are children themselves. If they give the child up for adoption it is entirely possible that their child will not be adopted quickly, or at all. Orphanages still exist, and the foster care system in this country is overburdened. If the immature parents are to try and keep their offspring, they usually lack any ability to care for their child, and they are usually already poor before having to care for a third person, or second person should the father be absent. All of these reasons, and a thousand more logically bring me to the conclusions that legal abortions are necessary to prevent a child, their possible parent(s), or the system that would ultimately care for them to needlessly, and so harshly suffer. But damnit, I am the exception that I cannot emotionally hurdle.

I live a very, very, very wonderful life and it is all thanks to my parents. I love them deeper than I can ever express. They have given me more than life, they have given me a life I couldn’t fathom not living. They care for me, they love me as I do them and it all began with their generosity. I never take a moment on this earth for granted because they allowed my pulse to continue beating. It is why, although I find it hard to express, I would do anything to show them my sincerest thanks. They will read this, they always cared so deeply about everything I set myself to, I love you both.

So I know how precious life is. I know the cons of abortion first hand. Yet I am sure someone could come forward, someone who has been destroyed over the years because of a incompetent parent, a failing system, or an abusive guardian. Or maybe they couldn’t- dead after only a few minutes as their first breaths draw only the pained chill of a cold wind in a bassinet thats walls are more of the steel variety and its blankets that of trash. Dumpsters are not befitting for the proper carriage of a newborn. Their life, and the lives of everyone involved could be better if they didn’t exist. It is a sickening reality that sounds so fucking logical, and I am a logical being, but I cannot come to terms with it.

So I cried.

A loud noise reverberates through the room. One pound of a taught drum turns the still room turbulent. Timid moments pass as the drum stops, an exasperated breath passes through a parted mouth. The pound has happened, will not happen again.

Boom. It comes as quickly as it stopped. Then another. It becomes a rhythm, a frighteningly metronomic beating on an unseen drum, percussing constantly. Exasperatingly trepidatious I sit there absorbed in the beating. The thumping never crescendos, but its tempo has changed. Faster, ever faster. Soon the room is filled with a hundred hits of the intangible instrument.

The pulse is never ending. I can only stand there absorbed, my body will not listen to my commands- transfixed. Initially terrifying the pounding has become benevolent. Bold moments bleed to hours and the rhythm is comforting, beautiful.

What should I do?

I have recently adopted a new, perhaps healthier outlook on life. I am moving forward(or at least attempting with futility) to become a more excitable, outgoing and spontaneous person. I’ll outline a few reasons why I think this is beneficial for myself as well as others I interact with later if you were so interested(or worried I am losing my marbles) but I for now just try and be accepting I am making changes for the better. Now if you read this blog of mine with some regularity, or you have spent a small amount of time with me you get the gist of who I am- a lazy nerd who folds clothing for a couple bucks to keep my current life of a student afloat. That is what I have been, but I feel the need to change that if not only slightly. School and work will have to be maintained but the hours I have outside those two activities are entirely open. In that time I ask you good friends, family, extended friends, and people I have yet to meet: what should I do?

I’ll give you an example: Yesterday I went well out of my way to visit a cafe that was highly recommended(when your friendly barista tells you there is something much better a little out of the way I think it would only be prudent to go) and it was wonderful. A staff that was full of simplistically tattooed hipsters who cared about their teas/coffees who were nonchalant, and didn’t try to push me to ‘upsize’ or buy more food- it was refreshing. So I spent the better part of two hours there without complaint. It wasn’t terribly busy but the traffic swelled a few times and I never once caught a leer from staff or customer. There was an understanding of appreciation of the moment. I savored my quiche(not the best, but not the worst)  and slowly made my way out. After I spent another two hours or so exploring a kitchen supply store and an oriental market. Both marvelous and deserving of their own paragraphs if not entire entries, but I will not be that distracted today.

This is what I want out of everyday, and I am searching for it. Alas, I have lived a predictable life this past half decade, if not longer. It has made me quite complacent and stagnated what creative thoughts I may have had. Or, had I thought of anything I would discredit nearly as quickly for a hundred of different and pathetic reasons. So I need a push in the right direction. Do you know of a great restaurant I would never have thought of? A bookstore? A reptile exhibit I simply must see? Anything that you find interesting I want to discover, and appreciate. I have an unending thirst for understanding and knowledge, and if you present me with something I will be more than willing to give it a shot, or at least I say that now. If you think that I will go base jumping with pockets full of razor blades with my hands tied behind my back you will be sorely disappointed. Facebook me, comment, call, walk up and slap me in the face with a menu from your favorite hole in the wall- tell me what you think I should do.

I’ll leave you with an anecdote, or maybe it will become an introduction to my next post- we shall see.

I’m writing this from the USF bookstore and while I am in one of the quieter corners there are still distractions. Watching social interactions unfold on the first floor from the second makes me analytical. Below me there is a very beautiful girl leafing through notebooks and pens(as 2/3 of this bookstore doesn’t have books) and a guy student is eyeing her from a few rows away. He makes his approach but turns moments before interaction, apparently suddenly aware that there are mechanical pencils right there in front of him! I can of course relate. Perhaps I have been ‘off the market’ for literally forever but even interactions where there is no pursuit of a deeper understanding I am awkward, unless I know what is to come in the interaction. If I am interviewing for admissions, for a job, or talking to a professor I am completely at ease. When I am talking to a classmate for the first time, or a customer who wants to know my opinion I am at a loss. It is rare that I can have a good conversation with my contemporaries, and if you have had one such conversation with me you are well within the minority.