A Contestical Retirement

If you like my poetry, dearest readers, you’re about to get more of it.

Back in January I entered what I felt was my last poetry contest. I found out last week that I didn’t win. Heck, I didn’t even place.

This, however, isn’t some heartbreaking ballad of a post about how heartbroken I am about that. Nor is it some rage-filled memoir about how I hate that I lost and am simply retiring out of rage. Again, let me reiterate: I’m not stopping submitting my poetry to contests because I’m angry or heartbroken, because, honestly…

I’m not. Either of those things.

Here’s the truth of the matter for me. I started this blog wanting to show the beauty in life. To tell of it in such a way that my words would print such eloquently taken photos into the retina of your minds that my camera itself couldn’t have shown it to you any better than my words. It’s easy to find the bad in the world and share about that. Anyone can do that. Goodness, part of how I make my living as a journalist involves telling the bad things going on in the world.

But this site exists because I actually see hope in the world. I love people. I see the beauty in their eyes and the good in their souls and believe that deep down, in some foreign chamber of our hearts so beautifully dark that we’re afraid to look inside lest we be sucked in, we all are actually good. There’s beauty everywhere, you just have to let yourself see it. That’s what this website is all about.

That’s what my poetry is really all about as well. I write poetry to do what I usually can’t as as a journalist: to write something deep and personal and to do so while using metaphors and symbolism so as to mask some of the work’s meaning, and make the reader have to give effort to fully understand it, while making it accessible enough that the reader can, eventually, understand it, and thus feel more connected to the work because of it. Robert Frost was a master of this: of writing poetry that was accessible so that the least educated person in the world could read it and take something from it, but still have a deeper meaning so that professional scholars of the genre could also find more within it once the worked(see “Mending Wall” and “The Road Not Taken” as classic examples).

Poetry contests, while great, are not something I excel at, but they also have a disadvantage: they almost always want unpublished work. That means I have to be careful not to post my best work on here because blogs are often considered a form of publishing, and therefore any poems shared on blogs generally are ineligible for use as contest submissions.

To me, that seems counterintuitive to my mission as a writer. I want y’all to see my work and be inspired by it. To find joy and inspiration in it, and to use that inspiration to be happier, healthier, and/or just in generally better at being the type of person you are trying to become. To share it with those in your lives that you think need it because you know them and know the work and might know it would help them.

So, slowly, over the coming years, I will share all of my work from my high school poetry (which will be titled in a way that identify’s itself, since I think a lot of it is pretty terrible lol) to what I’ve written recently (which I won’t specify except by not labeling it as high school era work). This will all start tomorrow and will become a weekly thing.

Feel free to comment, share, and, above all, enjoy. 🙂

Have a great rest of your night. Also, Good luck if you happen to be a student like me and this is your finals’ week. We’ll get through this.


A Shoutout To The Guys Laying Concrete

Last night I saw something interesting.

As I walked home in the dark from work at around 9:30 p.m., I looked up the road about a block as I often do toward Wefald Hall. K-State’s newest residence hall, it remains under construction, with two cranes, one of them taller than each of the surrounding residence halls nearby.

The bigger of the two is yellow, and last night, it was illuminated better than normal.

I looked up toward what was, for the moment, the top floor. I saw the steel columns rise vertically above it. I also, however, saw shadows moving.

As I got a little closer to the street corner, I realized the shadows I saw were the men of the construction site. They were hard at work with the big yellow crane. The crane, with its cockpit illuminated brilliantly beneath a dark sky high above the men, lowered a container of concrete toward them.

Their hardhats reflected the floodlights of it, like truck headlights illuminating the site of a bonfire. They had to have been six or seven or eight floors up. I forgot to count, but they were way up there.

What I found most interesting, however, was that they were there at all.

There they were putting in the sweat, pouring concrete at 10 p.m. on a 40 degree or so Thursday night. Concrete laying is inherently dirty, and heights are, for most of us, inherently terrifying. Yet there they were, getting their work in like a college senior preparing for the NFL combine.

I get it, they’re paid. I get it, their company made the bid probably years ago, then extended them jobs contingent on their willingness to do this specific kind of work. My father works in construction, has all his life. We have talked often about how this all works.

But I have also worked late, labor-intensive shifts. I have been in the dirty and the sand and the wind, and maybe just once the rain, building sleeping tents or office tents or running cable late into the night.

I know how annoying labor like that can be.

So as I walked home, I saw the beauty in what they were doing. On a cold Thursday night, with most of Manhattan preparing for one of the biggest party days of the year, these men were seven stories up, laying the foundation of a floor where memories will be built for decades. They were up putting in the midnight hours to complete a building that will stand in a spot where there was once just a parking lot. One that will give birth to history in the friendships that take place there. Proposals will happen one day because two people met each other there, or were introduced there. Some of the best physicists and engineers and musicians and writers of all human history will have done their midnight studying there, and grown into adults walking just a few thin pieces of linoleum above the concrete floor they were laying.

That’s beautiful.

Here’s a shoutout to the guys whose names will never be known by history, but who laid the foundations of it.

Adventures in Ballet 1

Oh if I could only count them, as we prepare to hit midterms. Today is when I hit my Spanish midterm exam, and I’m a little terrified of it, but that’s another story. But I figure since I haven’t written nearly as much this semester as I had hoped, it’s time for an update.

Ballet 1 has led me to meet some really cool people, and it’s gotten better even as the semester has progressed.

Terminology is a fun thing to learn, because it’s in French, and that’s different since I’ve previously studied/continue to study both Spanish and Italian. But I get excited every time learn one. I don’t mean “learn” like hearing it in class and repeating it, etc. I mean the type of learn that is evident in situations like rehearsal for show pieces I’m in. At moments like these, I’ll hear the teacher rattle off a list of French words, like she’s speaking it natively or something, while she instructs us on the next routine during warmups, and I’ll get excited for just a second because I’ll be realizing in my head that I totally understood everything she just said! Or, in other circumstances, I’ll be watching as she works with another dancer and she’ll be offering them corrections and she’ll say something like “You’re doing that pas de chat well, but you need to come up on relevé more” or something like that.

Those little moments are when I usually go up to one of the nearby dancers, most often another guy in the department named Chris, and give them a high five and say something like “Oh yeah! Getting that ballet terminology.”

Small victories, in the society we live, are seldom celebrated. Often this happens because we are too busy beating ourselves up for failures of the same magnitude, the little tiny ones that is.

I’m trying to remember to celebrate those :).

Other things that have been great have included Ballet rehearsal for the piece I’m an understudy in. It’s a massive, really cool ballet, and I’m honored even to just be at rehearsal and be learning it, even if performing is unlikely due to the theme of it. Learning this one has been a challenge, and a joy, and I’m progressing in a way that makes me rather happy. But, more on that in a future blog post. 🙂

In the meantime, Ballet 1 happens every Tuesday and Thursday. It’s a fun little group and lately we’ve been working on lifts and partnering stuff. I really enjoy it more than most of the solo stuff we’ve done. I love movement in general, don’t get me wrong, but there’s something really joyous about getting to turn a girl and knowing the trust it requires her to both have and show. You have to trust her to be strong and she has to trust you to be strong as well, since she’s in elevé (meaning she’s basically standing on her tip toes).

Ballet is such a gorgeous thing! So much of it is about almost acting in a way! When the girl pushes off then looks back at you with her right arm reaching out to you as she prances away to your left, while your left reaches out to her as if to say “but you didn’t have to leave,” just before you turn to catch the next approaching ballerina :). All of this, of course, is done without words at all, and it’s done with such a subtle but impressive sense of discipline that any man would likely love it for that reason alone. Forget the tranquil beauty of both body and in most cases mind that the dancers you work with possess, just the required mental and physical discipline of Ballet makes a man want to stick with it forever.

One of my fellow bloggers, another adult beginner and a person I hope will become a friend through our shared work, said it best in her most recent post:

“I feel like I’m getting so immersed in dance, and apart from seeing my dog at the end of the day it’s the one thing I really look forward to.”

That’s a lot of what I feel right now. I’m starting to get my writing feet back under me, so I’m sure I’ll write more about this later, but for now, I’m excited. Today is Tuesday. Ballet 1 day, and it’s going to be heavenly. 🙂

Keep smiling everyone 🙂