Tracy Chapman’s Fast Car (No Judgement)

I noticed I forgot to mention that one of my non-material loves is music. I guess it’s become so intrinsic to me, that I perhaps let it slip through my fingers – a little like the fact that I have jet black hair. Or that I’m right-handed (sorry for disappointing you artist-types). If it’s any consolation, my thoughts are scattered just like my to-do list and my room. Apparently creative minds are just all over the place.

Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car is not only one of my favorite songs, but a song that confuses my emotions and aural reactions. It is a song that is extremely catchy and easy to listen to, with that simple, repetitive guitar riff, yet leaves me with a bittersweet aftertaste. It’s also worth noting Chapman’s deep, alto vocals – my brother mistook her for a man when he first listened to the song on radio.

I think Ms. Chapman succeeds in telling the story of generational poverty without the regular preachiness, and she does so sincerely. The vicious cycle continues for many reasons – having to give up education in order to look after an alcoholic parent, a bad decision with unfortunate consequences and finally abandoned hopes, where you can neither let go or move forward.

A friend of mine said to me that Pink’s song, “Dear Mr. President” sounded overly preachy, even though it was quite a popular song at the time. Though I’m sure her intentions were good, I had to sadly agree. The song places too much blame and emphasis on ‘the man’ without looking internally, or at other factors. It comes off as a little insincere, because of the fact that Pink is a major recording artist and she probably should have titled it “Dear Wall Street Bankers.”

The song taught me to never look purely at the outermost layers of a portrait again. There is just too much that is left untold, too much that is covered up. Unless we take the time to uncover the truth, all we can do is assume. And you know whenever we do that, we have a huge chance of messing up and making an ass out of ourselves.

There is also the chance that we may end up scraping layers too deeply, damaging the layers beneath. So usually we just keep our distance and admire or sneer at the painting. What we should be doing is keeping an open mind, and taking the time to be genuinely interested and concerned for the picture. The whole picture.

I found myself sitting next to a young, Muslim woman at the social welfare office a few months back. Normally I am very reserved around people I don’t know, but I always try to make the effort to offer up conversation if I feel the need to. I asked her if she was a student.

“Yes. I am. Are you?”

“Oh no. I was one, I’ve graduated. What do you study?”

“I study at the school just over here. I’m studying early childhood education.”

We talked a little more about how I was looking for a job and then came the truth. I didn’t know how I had not noticed that she was pregnant before I sat next to her. Maybe it was because she had large, dark brown eyes and was wearing colorful sneakers, that it didn’t even occur to me as a possibility.

“I’m pregnant right now. I had a miscarriage before because I was looking after the kids and chasing them around.”

I told her that she should rest and look after her baby. We then talked about other things like family, how long she had been here and other miscellaneous topics. Before long, she had to talk with the case manager. She smiled and waved goodbye to me as she left, and I was up next.

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Why Poetry Jam?

If you were wondering where (and what) my poetry jam series was about, this is the piece to read. Poetry Jam hasn’t ended, but I’ve decided it is time for it to go in another direction to solidify my works in a publishable format. That is, digital self-publishing for the single woman.

And why the name poetry jam? Well, it’s a little bit silly since most of the poetry I’ve written for that series is written from a child’s perspective and the name is more than adequate.

But wait, aren’t you at least 21? Yes, but that shouldn’t stop you (or me) from being able to write short shorts to express a point or view or just write nonsensically.

“When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am 50, I read them openly. When I became a man, I put away childish things – including fear of childishness and the desire to be grown up.”

— C.S. Lewis

On the other side of the coin, stands a very dim-lighted center stage and a lone microphone. Poetry jam for me was a little bit like open-mic night. Exposing your work – your thoughts – leaves you, like any performer, a little vulnerable to any ridicule or open praise. It is there for the world to see. But at the same time, it can open your world up to other people and recognition that you would otherwise never have had the chance to receive.

Though silly the poems may be, there is oftentimes an ounce or two in truth in them. Take for example, I Test. With 20/20 vision or corrected eyesight, you can see everything. With blurred vision, perhaps you can only make out the first couple of lines. I can certify this because I discovered my myopia around the age of 10 through compulsory eye tests at school.

For a tl;dr (too long, didn’t read version) for why poetry jam:

Departure Time

A hug, a kiss is all it takes,
A gentle smile on your face,
A nod, a wave of the hand
Is it time for that?
I don’t want this to end.

It’s not over, you smirk,
With a wink and a grin.
See you again on my next crazy whim.

The Same Ol’ New Year

I didn’t properly wish any of you through an authentic blog post so here it is: Happy New Year! And though the Earth has revolved around the Sun for another 365 days or so, some things still haven’t changed.

I certainly haven’t upgraded my dumbphone for a smartphone (apparently flip phones are now coming back into fashion, though mine is unfortunately a candybar *sniffle*). I still use the same notebook computer (and these things really should not go on your lap) that I bought some five years ago. I still use the iPod that my friends gave me in high school, even though I bought the touchscreen model for other purposes a couple of years back.

I’m not planning on upgrading any of these devices unless they die, get lost or stolen. And even then, I might not upgrade them at all, to be honest.

And you know what? That’s perfectly okay with me.

As for my flesh-and-bone friends, I haven’t traded them in for newer models. I’m still stuck with the same old group that I met a decade back in elementary, middle and high school.

Would I like more youthful, fashionista friends who are social network mavericks? Not really.

Though possibly more pleasing to the eye with super tech-savvy minds, they serve no purpose to me. What I want is reliability. I like them because they do what they need to do (though not always necessarily what I want them to do). I want friends that stick by me through hard and thin. It’s all very fun to hang out, party, and laugh, but what matters is you’re with me when I’m down too. I am not an easy person to handle at times.

It’s quite startling that they haven’t cut off contact with me and we all meet up every now and again. They are truly loyal friends. I am extremely grateful to have met this bunch of quirky individuals. They’re probably not all going to be the ‘next big thing’, but like I said, that is okay with me.

The same goes for my readers. I thank each and every one of you that took to following me and reading my work, commenting and allowing me to read some of yours. I’m immensely grateful to Jason – quite possibly the most opinionated man that ever existed, the self-reflecting Vernon, the wayfaring mother Diana, blueinsomniak and the Oddity Writer, Daniel – who inspired this post and all of them for choosing to stick around even when I had almost no content here.

And last, but not least: to my family, well it’s not like you really had a choice to be related to me, though I’m glad you are. As for my younger sibling, we are both perfectly aware that we have the capability to annoy each other to wits end. We don’t always see eye-to-eye. This is probably true for everyone else in this whole family, yet I’d feel incredibly lonely without all of you. In other words, I look forward to having you hog the couch again when you’re back home.

I don’t know how all of you managed to put up with me – friends, family and readers alike. But I’m looking forward to spending another rollercoaster ride with you.