Embarking On A New Journey… (Genre)

Next semester, I have decided to branch out. Well not really, my main motivation behind that decision is because I almost, basically have to. With the rule that you cannot take three of the same genre workshops in a row, without a directed study or whatever the fine print is… I found myself struggling in filling out my application. All I have ever written is poetry. However, my poetry is all Creative Non-Fiction.

With this in mind, I set out to apply to the CNF track (fiction was an absolute lost cause…). I emailed Lytton in a panic, per usual, and he assured me in my choice of this endeavor. My poetry literally is CNF… I just had to omit the line breaks, add more of a theme, and string together some sentences… easy enough, right?

I sat down, with a blank word document, thinking about what to write about. I had a few things in mind, and of course my train of thought always conducts itself onto my family… which is fine because my family, specifically my dad, is my muse anyway. So I wrote about a very specific incident in my family’s life, and I just kept writing and writing, until after ten pages, it was ‘done’.

I was proud of myself for doing this, and it was so satisfying to complete this application. The writing however, was not just the ‘string together a couple of sentences’ mantra that I originally thought. Obviously, it was much more than that. Trying to recall the specific details, and thinking of ways to phrase the syntax of my sentences was an interesting feat. Usually in poetry, if I’m stuck, I just make my diction more concise by taking out small words — those of which that don’t matter in poetry such as ‘of, it, my, the’ … but in CNF — you can’t really do that. So, the ‘cut your darlings’ technique — my go-to — was not as reliable this time around for the sake of literal grammar, which doesn’t apply in my usual genre. My style of writing was also more scenic, rather than abstract and imagined — as it should be. So, again, it was a different experience overall, but I do indeed feel accomplished.

I asked for feedback on my piece, from a trusted friend, and after taking their critiques into consideration, I was ready to submit my application. I even wrote a small note on my cover sheet, saying “I already took poetry twice, time for a new genre” with a smiley face. I was nervous I wouldn’t get in, so I felt this need to debrief and defend myself in a weird way. But no worries, a few days later, I found out that I indeed made it into the track!

Now that I am admitted into a CNF workshop I have NO IDEA what to expect. But, I sure am excited.

 

Julia xoxo

Watch // Time // Through

Time is movement. It is a passage of space and momentum and feeling and importance. Chronologically speaking, this is most vital conversion in human existence (in my opinion), because we can learn SO MUCH from history. That is why, to diagnose Through, I chose my watch.

I wear my watch everyday (on the inside, as it should be), and I looked at it as I was reading this poetry by Herd. I thought about the word ‘suspend’ that Herd uses, extensively. To temporarily suspend time and sequence is such a graceful interruption. Similar to old shows like Saved By The Bell when Zach Morris can pause the scene, and speak to us: this suspension is vital to the plot, and audience’s interpretation. I have a stopwatch on my watch, and I can, too, suspend time for my own time-keeping abilities and desires. But, this idea of suspension, specifically in this book and title, is ironic.

To me, this book is about ‘moving through’ things. Of course there are deeper meanings within the smaller poems, but broadly if I could summarize ALL the poems into one word — it would be on very similar to the word through (thank God that’s the title…). Perhaps a word like movement, fluid, exist — any one that suggests momentum, but a slow one. This book encompasses many themes, and all have to do with change. Whether that be within politics, people, the environment, or personal goals, this poetry is about opening doors, and walking through them. The most important movement in this book is time: the change in politics, speakers, and important faces and voices. Or just the time throughout the day, and the changing of that concept, is imperative as well. From the images of birds to sunsets, it is chronological statement of day in and day out, and of political state of affairs.

My watch represents this fluidity, or lack thereof in terms of suspension of time. This is directly related to the political environment, the faces involved, and the personal journey between doors. The concept of moving through something, is based on time. The old saying that is often said to those grieving is: “time heals all wounds” — now,  we will not get into this cliche, but the idea of time healing  wounds isn’t what I care about. What I am interested in is the idea of eventually, time resolving hurt. It is funny though, how history repeats itself. Maybe we are wearing the cast, just to soon break the same bone again…

Without entering any political climate territory, reading Through with this lens of time has helped me to understand the book as one segment, continuously. Reading the book in this way helped me to see the movement of the pieces, together and fluidly, yet separate and suspended, as well.

I suggest reading this book of poems perhaps on a timer, or a metronome, and use this to feel the way the rhythm feels to time, and the way the concepts and content do as well.

 

Julia xoxo

 

I Am Trying To Become Smarter… Weird, I Know.

Ok SO —

I watch a lot of Criminal Minds, let’s start there. Whether listening to Reid spit out amazing, random facts that he learned from a book he read once years ago, or listening to Blake know the root of every word EVER because of her background in linguistics, I love to see and hear intelligence. These (fictional and scripted) people are SO SMART (ya know, in this fake world but whatever) and it is so attractive to me. I love the idea of being smart, and having that be the first thing someone notices about me.

I also find it AMAZING when Lytton just knows direct quotes and books and authors — it’s actually insane. He’s an encyclopedia. I strive to be like that, very well versed and just brilliant, ya know?

Another one of my role models if Ruth Bader Ginsburg because how can she not be one of your role models… I watched her documentary, and a quote that when she said it made me literally CRY INSTANTLY was when she was talking about her husband and she said “he was the first boy to ever like me for my brain.” And I began to cry, that just really hit the spot with me. I have never had that spontaneous of a reaction to simple words before, it was an unforgettable moment.

It was unforgettable for many reasons. One of which being that I have never had that experience. Sure, I’ve had people call me smart, but I’ve never had that be the reason that someone loves me, or is friends with me. That is never the first thing someone notices about ‘Julia’. But one day, hopefully it is.

So no, I don’t want to get smarter for a boy, but I do want to just be more well-read and better cultured in terms of reading, writing, and language overall. In short, I want to be Lytton (or an FBI agent, or Supreme Court Judge — whichever comes first). With this goal, I started crossword puzzles over the summer and MY GOD, they’re difficult. I bought a book of 500 of them (why I needed that many, no idea) but so far I’ve solved anywhere between 10%-80% of all of them. I have yet to complete one entirely, and no, I don’t cheat.

My goal is to keep this book, and hopefully one day after I’ve studied my butt off and read every book in the universe, then maybe –just maybe — I can look back at the puzzles I never finished and say “damn, how did I not get that answer before?” Once I get to that point in my life (and ya know, have 4 kids, a pool, and a dog named Sprout), I’ll know I’ve made it.

 

P.S. I also want to learn how to play chess so if anyone knows, teach me!

 

Best,

Julia

Why I Write 11 Blogs A Week

I get paid to write. Thank God.

When trying to find a flexible, noble, cool, and paying job on campus — my pickings were slim. Last semester, I came into contact with a GREAT opportunity. It was to be an International Student Blogger. And now, I have held this position and worked for this office for over 6 months. I am responsible for writing 10 hours worth of blogs a week.

At first, I had trouble really finding things to write about. Essentially, my job is to give a well-rounded view of what Geneseo is, and what it offers. My blog posts are put on a database for prospective international students to read, and hopefully be enticed by. As time passed, I got better at finding things to write about — it didn’t even feel like work anymore. After going to a school event, or a new restaurant with my friends, I would simply snap a picture, and write about the logistics of the topic, then my opinion about it, and then a conclusion: easy-peasy. Basically, I was and am getting paid to live my life, and write about it. I love my job, and the people I work with are amazing. But with anything, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing.

I type A LOT throughout the week… my wrists ache constantly. Honestly, I am grateful that I do not a laptop from 4:30pm-7:50pm on Wednesday nights. But yes, typing for 10 hours a week about my life can certainly be painful and tiring. But I do it for a good cause, and it is beneficial for not only my finances and self-reflective thoughts, but also for incoming students trying to get a feel for Geneseo in its entirety.

So, I would call myself a master of blogs by now… I write 10 for ISSS, and one for Lytton. All in all, 11 blogs a week isn’t too bad; because, at the end of the day, I get to do what I love.

Julia xoxo

Like Carbon

Carbon is in anything living; it is organic. The pure forms of carbon are either graphite, or diamond. One dark, grainy, breakable; the other being strong, clear, and untouchable.

Our discussion on the organic got me thinking about how organic means anything with Carbon, and Hydrogen. It also pertains to anything living. It also means anything grown without synthetic materials. There are many forms that being organic, and being Carbon can take on.

There are many forms that writing can take on, as well. Writing is in everything–every day, every profession, every requirement. Whether it be writing an essay, an application, an email, a text, a letter–it is essential. It is Carbon. It is living.

This discussion caused an existential crisis on my end. It reminded much of Dead Poet’s Society and the inspirational quotes from Robin Williams, Rest in Peace.

“We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.”

“To quote from Whitman, ‘O me! O life!… of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless… of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?’ Answer. That you are here — that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?”

This movie is one of my favorites, and makes me cry every time. These quotes are also two of my favorites, that I refer to often when I need a reminder of why I write, or why I go to art exhibits, or why I sew some of my own clothes. This is the sustainable part of life; this is what we stay alive for.

Organic, Carbon, Raw, Natural, Writing. All are synonymous and interdependent in my eyes. And they always will be.

 

Julia xoxo

Week 3: Being a TA for Intro to Creative Writing

This is the third week of school, and for me it is my third week of being a Teaching Assistant for Caroline in English 201. It is going well… I think.

On the first day, we went through the syllabus–and that was fine. Caroline asked me to explain a few things from a student’s perspective, such as the fourth wall. So I explained that best I could, and all the students just stared at me with blank looks. I realized, they didn’t even know what the verb ‘workshop’ meant… well, this was awkward. So then I tried rambling about that and I confused them even MORE. They asked, “so I just sit here silently and everyone talks about what I wrote??”, I tell them yes and they looked TERRIFIED.

I remembered there was a time when I first heard this verb of ‘workshop’ too. And yes, even then it seemed daunting–and it still is terrifying. I told them that I get nervous too when my piece is workshopped, but it’s best to look down, bite your nails, and take notes. They still just looked confused. Then they asked, “well what should I write about?”, and I told them that they could write about anything. I gave them the very sound advice that I received as a young writer that you must distance yourself from your piece. Nothing is too close to you. I told them that often times, I write about my father and it feels numb to me now–in a good way. After hearing about my ‘dark’ writing and ability to write about my family and still having it workshopped, I saw some relief on their faces. I think that came from the fact that I am also a student, and if they saw I did it and am continuing to do it, then they can do it, too.

The next class Caroline actually was diagnosed with Strep … so class was cancelled, unfortunately.

This past class on Tuesday, we went over poetry and creative non-fiction. These kids were LIVELY (that is mostly because I told them that participation gets them a LOT of brownie points) so they were talking SO much and it was beautiful. They asked questions, talked with each other, and each had such an individual voice and personality. Truly it is an inspiring class, and I am honored to be a part of it.

I will keep you updated on my chronicles as a TA. Wish me luck!

Best,

Julia xoxo

My New Favorite Author

I encountered my new favorite author (regarding poetry, that is) this past summer. His name is Kaveh Akbar, and he is PHENOMENAL. His book, “Calling A Wolf A Wolf” is one I read time and time again these past few months. I was recommended this book by TC Tolbert (and by Lytton, I believe)–and I am so glad I ordered a copy of it.

This book is raw. You can FEEL the personal journey and feelings of Akbar. As a recovering alcoholic Muslim, he channels the most organic and connecting feeling throughout his writing. Something that tI have noticed throughout his poems is the incredible use of comparisons. In addition, his word choice is fluid and extremely deliberate and strategic–everything connects. These are the two things that I NEED to steal from him, and two things I greatly admire within his writing.

Something even COOLER is that Kaveh Akbar, THE KAVEH AKBAR, quote tweeted one of my tweets. I almost cried. I posted a picture of my marginalia in his book because the page was covered in notes and pencil markings. He then saw the picture, quote tweeted it, and said “Nothing fascinates me more than someone’s marginalia.” I immediately was SO insecure that the author of this book I just graffiti-ed was reading my notes, but I also was like ‘holy shit the author of this book I graffiti-ed is reading my notes…’

It was crazy. But, moral of the story–read the book, it’s incredible.

 

Best,

Julia

taking steps toward my writing career. finally.

For those of you who know, I recently changed paths in my life, and future life–very drastically, I might add. I have been on the pre-med track my entire childhood, to my teens. Recently, this has changed as I choose to do what I WANT, not what I feel like I NEED to do. This means, getting more professionally involved in writing.

Since this is a new change for me and life path, I FREAKED out over the summer, feeling unprepared and uneducated in how to further myself in this area of study. When I was primarily pre-med, I knew to volunteer at hospitals and get internships wherever I could medically. Now, I was in a whole new ballpark, and frankly I was terrified. I figured the next step was to find literary magazines and to submit–I knew I needed to be published, and I wanted to be published. With this, I submitted EVERYWHERE.

I sent in over 20 poems to over 30 magazines. It was the most insane thing I’ve ever witnessed and done because it was so new to me, and so different, but I loved it. After receiving many rejections, and ‘almost, but no’ emails, I finally was published. Four times. Those four acceptances outweighed the 30+ rejections, and I was so proud of myself. I now feel like an actual, verified writer, and I am ecstatic to put these publications on my resume. Now, this is nothing to be cocky about, I know–but that those four glimmers of hope telling me ‘hey, you can write,’ is all I need to keep going, keep submitting, keep getting rejected, and keep getting accepted.

In case you would like to take a look:

Red Queen Literary Magazine Issue IV: can I induce apoptosis?

Minute Magazine Issue 4: I Started When It Was Cool

Minute Magazine Issue 4: Things I Think About While Hiding In The Closet

The Mantle Issue 5: Alcohol Addiction Is 50% Genetics & 50% Poor Coping Skills

 

Best,

Julia Merante

 

Julia’s Favorite Things…

I write about a lot of the same things because its all I know:

Addiction, Alcoholism, Heartbreak, English, and Law. That’s all I got. Sorry. 

For this last blog post, I wanted to write about the books I suggest for summer. And OF COURSE that all ties back to drinking or a boy or something… again–sorry. BUT–last summer, when I recently became single, these five books that I read after my breakup were life changing. They were my own therapy. I wrote a blog for Gandy Dancer encompassing this idea, and wanted to share that with you all. So–here is my Gandy blog post, and here are my book suggestions for this summer:

 

We’ve all been there. Whether you are suffering after a divorce, first love lost, or the defeat of your favorite team, heartbreak is tough. Here are five books to read that will help you cope in this trying and difficult time.

  1. First step of the process is to grab some Rocky Road, a comfy blanket and a lot of tissues. All settled? Now, dive into New Bern, North Carolina—the hometown of Nicholas Sparks. Let’s wallow. My personal Sparks favorites are The Notebook and The Last Song. This step is the most important to give the appropriate grievance to your loss. The Notebook reveals a tender and beautiful story about the aching and persisting power of a strong love. Within this love, there are obstacles and longing memories revolving around the most steadfast emotional bond within human nature. There are high stakes and crucial changes between these characters that make the book a suspenseful read and definitely, a tearjerker. The Last Song is yet another powerful Sparks novel unfolding around the same idea of love and its various forms. This story understands the incredible relationships, along with their downfalls, between lovers, family and friends. This demonstration of a deep and unforgettable love will break your heart, then heal it just the same. So once you’ve cried your eyes out, on to book number two.
  2. The next part of the process is distraction. The prolonging feeling of thinking and overthinking needs to be interrupted. So, let’s move on to an interesting and amusing novel as we enter the stories of Mr. Sherlock Holmes. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is a collection of intense, curious and mind-blowing crimes and detection. While reading this, you will enter London and the brilliant, charming dynamic duo of Holmes and Watson. This world will distract you from your lingering thoughts, and let you live a different life for a while as a cool, crime-solving detective. You will be able to experience a fast, unpredictable environment and escape reality for a bit in this thrilling novel. Arthur Conan Doyle will challenge your mind in a multitude of installations and make you think twice about the impressions you give off to others. This break from reality will help to heal by experiencing a refreshing breather from the wallowing, and instead enjoy curious thought and surprising plot twists.
  3. Now, it’s time to put some things into perspective. The world is HUGE and there is so much going within it. Your misery looks smaller compared to the universe, and knowing that others are hurting just the same will help you to feel less alone. This company and support will help because you will know that others are sad too, you are not going through this pain unaccompanied. So now, dive into the cold world of Russia with Tolstoy. Anna Karenina will show you complexity, heart ache, and complicated familial issues. This book revolves around star-crossed love, seclusion, and engulfing drama and reveals to the reader that you are not alone in your problems. Others have been there.
  4. The next step is to gain some self-awareness and remember who YOU are as a person and who you want to become. A powerful book regarding cleansing and self-discovery is Walden by Thoreau. Follow Thoreau into the woods as he unclutters his life and finds true meaning by dissecting the difference between man and animal. It is an intricate read that will leave you thinking about how you should go on trying to find yourself. While in a relationship, it is easy to morph yourself into a duo. But go into the woods, and discover who you were meant to be. This book will intensely challenge the necessity of things and provoke an inspiration for minimalism. Thoreau proves that all you need is yourself and your thoughts.
  5. The final step is to forgive someone who likely never even said, “I’m sorry.” You’ll be happier when you realize how much more you are worth, and how this person doesn’t deserve your forgiveness. But, you forgive them anyway. For yourself. The final book is The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. This book will show you the strength you never knew you had. It will send you off back into the world inspired and ready to rise above anything. Jeannette Walls shows a story of triumph. She was able to create a successful life on her own terms. The flawed love that was generated by her unconventional family gave her the determination to discover who she wanted to be and what life she wanted to build for herself. This story is one that develops the idea of tenderness, inspiration and persistence—the perfect memoir to end your journey.

Overall, these five steps and five books will give you the keys to success that you need to get through this trying time in your life. And when you want a break from reality you can escape—all readily available on your own bookshelf. These pages will be there for you whenever you need the support. As much as people may betray or hurt us, books never will.

 

I hope you all enjoyed, keep reading.

 

 

xox Jules

Putting My Skills To The Test//Writing and Confrontation

I recently (and by recently, I mean about twenty minutes ago), had an encounter where my writing became a literal necessity. I am very energetic and READY to write right now, since the topic is fresh and the cut is deep, and that’s why this blog post is relatively spontaneous–but SO important. 

Long story short, my friend has been physically, mentally, and verbally abused for the past year and a half. What started as a fun, and lovely college relationship, turned toxic extremely fast. However, by the time the moment came for her to step out, she was too deep in. Let’s call her Amy. Amy was so manipulated, and mentally abused that the things her boyfriend, let’s call him Bill, would do, she deemed as normal. Her ‘phone checks’, ‘outfit checks’ and regulation of where she can/can’t go, were SO normal to her, that she had no idea they were wrong. She was treated like literal PROPERTY for so long. As friends, we would constantly try to help and protect her, but it was almost a lost cause. We persuaded counseling, and advice. We involved parents–but nothing could get through to her. She loved him so much, she was blind to the manipulation because she just wanted to make him happy. 

This past weekend, the ‘fight’ that I referenced in class was because of their relationship. It dragged many people in the middle, and created a literal fist fight due to a threat he proposed. This was the final straw for Amy. She finally saw the light, and understood what we have been trying to tell her for a year. It finally clicked for her when she saw the dislocated thumbs, broken wrists, and bruised cheekbones. The impact that her relationship had on an entire national fraternity was actually insane.  I was in shock. 

Amy finally decided to say something. She went to the ARD, and then the Title IX Coordinator–THANK GOD, FINALLY. My friends and I were literally screaming of excitement. As support, Amy asked me and another friend to come and sit with her at the meeting. After describing the relationship to the counselor, she asked us to create personal statements of everything we could remember from the relationship–anything abusive, anything that the police or Dean needed to know. She then sent us on an hour break.

Within this hour break, I was so TRIGGERED and so HEATED from simply recalling all of the acts Bill completed, I sat down and started writing our personal statements. I was done within the hour. I made a 5-page bullet list of dates, explanations, acts, results, and impacts in regards to what has happened over the past year and a half. I then shared this document with Amy and our friend. They read it, and were confused how I asked my mom to write this so quickly. Instantly I was confused. 

My mom was an English major, and is now a lawyer. My friends literally thought that I called my mom, and told her everything and she typed it into a professional document and emailed it back to me to print. I replied and said “What  do you mean… I just wrote this in the hour gap between meetings?” 

My friends were SHOOK. I guess this proves that they have never truly seen nor appreciated my writing (until they needed it…).

They were impressed by the language, the efficiency, and how mature and how professional it was. To say the least, I was flattered. I suppose watching my mother type her legal documents all these years in correlation with my English Major really paid off…

Again, it is amazing how much my writing can have on people, and that is why I continue to write. From my Odyssey publication about my Ex that reached and helped so many people, to this ‘legal’ document that will reprimand this boy, I am ecstatic to make a difference, and to impact people simply with my words.

My suitemates, and the counselor, then proceeded to talk about how I should be a lawyer… go figure.

All in all, this has to do with the power of English, and of confrontation–that little ol’ subject we brought up last class. This disposition is the most confrontational thing that I have ever written. It is direct, bulleted, and doesn’t hold back. I am proud of it, as a piece of writing, and as something that could effectively help someone. 

 

 

Jules xox