Taken in route to the Perfume Pagoda in northern Vietnam.
Taken in route to the Perfume Pagoda in northern Vietnam.
Growing up, authors always seemed like distant people to me. All authors must live in some far away city, such as Los Angeles or New York City, and spend every minute writing. I thought of authors as part of a secret society, one where the only way to get in was to grace the shelves of Barnes and Noble with your books. Authors were busy people that did not interact with us lowly readers. Their books, however, were just the opposite.
Books gave me access to the entire world; they brought people that I had only heard about right into my hands. I could travel anywhere I wanted to, speak to whomever was in the book, and befriend the protagonist. Books gave me a VIP pass to all worlds and their citizens. All worlds except for the world of authors, that is.
The wall between the illusive authors and their works was shattered when I read Hurt Go Happy by Ginny Rorby. About a deaf girl who befriends a chimpanzee through sign language, Hurt Go Happy quickly became my favorite book from my childhood. As I finished the book, I noticed the Author’s Note at the end of the book. There, printed only a few pages away from what was the best book I had read up to that point, was Ginny Rorby’s email. It did not appear to be the email to a publishing company but to the author itself. As 5th grade me crafted my email, I was doubtful she would actually reply. My parents told me I would only get a pre-written response from the publisher, if anything.
“Thank you for your email. Ms. Rorby is quite busy writing, but appreciates your thoughts” should be what I would receive, everyone told me. That was, if I did even get a response.
Instead, a few days later, I woke up to an email for Rorby herself thanking me from the kind remarks and wanting to know more about me. I frantically typed back, amazed to be in correspondence with an actual author. Over the next 7 years, Ginny and I emailed almost daily. She would send me an early manuscript of the novel she was working on; I would send her my poetry or pieces that I wrote for class assignments.
Since I was interested in leaning more about chimpanzees, Ginny was able to set up a visit for me to a local chimpanzee and orangutan sanctuary, the same one where she had done her research for the book.
Hurt Go Happy connected me with someone I thought was too good to be real-an author. Her email back showed me the true power of books, connecting people to not only the characters in the books, but the author as well. Having just spent a week this summer staying and writing with Ginny in her tiny Northern California house, I am finally convinced that authors are people just like me. They are people who have a story to tell and simply tell it through words.
please stop beheading
Watching the news
When they killed you
a second time
said the talking heads
your head fell
one less head
two less eyes
three more dead
you became your work
you were on the 6:30 news
you were the front page story
when I woke up
your stories were buried
along with your head
“Poetry, even bad poetry, may be our final hope” – Ed Abbey
I wrote this in English earlier this year.
The Manifesto of the Amalgamation of Mismatched Puzzle Pieces
Article I, written by the Puzzle Piece from the “Skeleton Floor Puzzle”:
Article II, written by the Puzzle Piece from “US Capitol Building 3D Puzzle”
Article III, written by the Puzzle Piece from “Ravensburger Yosemite Valley- 1000 Piece Puzzle”
The Puzzle Pieces that are part of the Amalgamation of Mismatched puzzle pieces all pledge to not dwell on the negative aspects of this life. They will accept that they no longer are part of the group that they were “designed” to be in. They will turn the seemingly negative separation into something positive. They will be phoenixes that, with the help of those around them, will come together to make something new. The new creation may not be what the pieces feel like they were made for, and, as a Puzzle Piece that has experienced this feeling as well, I can say that this feeling is temporary and is common among all of the pieces. When we look to the earth, we realize that this separation of the similar and the mixture of the different is not something that we need to fear. If the clouds would have refused to join the sky simply because the sky was not a cloud, we have a world that does not get to experience the beauty of white clouds contrasted on a blue sky. Or if the mountains said to the earth, “You are not like us. We cannot associate.” Luckily, neither of these things has actually occurred. And neither of those things will happen to the Amalgamation of Mismatched Puzzle Pieces.
Article IV, written by the Puzzle Piece from “WWII Poster Collage Jigsaw Puzzle”
Article V, written by the Amalgamation of Mismatched Puzzle Pieces
If one returns to Article I, Section D, one would find the mission of the Amalgamation of Mismatched Puzzle Pieces. The Amalgamation would like to conclude its manifesto by reporting the success of the mission outlined in the mentioned passage. The Amalgamation has reached a point in its life that no longer are individual pieces in mourning of their former lives, no longer are they attempting to fix into the categories that the factory workers sorted them into at the factory. We are realizing that it is truly up to ourselves to define who we are.
The Amalgamation of Mismatched Puzzle Pieces
I did all artwork in The Manifesto of the Amalgamation Mismatched Puzzle Pieces. All puzzles references are real puzzles and can be purchased on Amazon.com.
I’ve always thought it strange how excited the college counselors are when they introduce the college essay.
‘its your one chance,’
they say, their radii of their eyes reaching a magnitude that is foreign to us sleep deprived protégé
‘for you to sell yourself to colleges. for you to become more than your test scores, more than your gpa.’
(haven’t i’ve been more than my test scores and my gpa my whole life? I mean, I dind’t even get those things until five months ago. was i nothing before then?)
they say it like its a black friday sale, something that is too good to miss
(a sale that is so good that you have to set your alarm for 1 am simply to have a chance at having a chance at getting in line to have the chance to buy the coveted flat screen tv with a 20% mail in rebate, the one that everyone wants)
(a sale that might not be worth it in the end)
‘it’s one of the more important parts of your application; it gives colleges the chance to really know you’
(is that how we get to know each other now, via essays? it would make sense, since I am trying to get to know you via brochures and your websites and your youtube channels and your campus and your student guides and the ceaseless mail ((very harry potter-esque, by the way)) and the twitters and the student run blogs. it would make sense for me to get a page to introduce myself to you. how thoughtful and kind of you to take the time to get to know me)
‘you want to tell your story, tell how you have become who you are today’
(you know the life you’ve been living? now, take that life, the life that you’ve spent literally your whole life living, and put it into a five-hundred word essay. but take out all the parts that didn’t shape who you are today ((but did not every moment of my life shape me? maybe this is all just some naïve Gestalt psychology notion that the whole will always be greater than the sum of the parts or maybe i’m just being a whiny high school student, but I have to hope (((for reasons that include my own sanity))) that everything that I’ve done, every conversation, every blink, every sneeze, every time I tripped over my shoes, every time I’ve done anything and everything has had at least a tiny influence on who I am)) just share the important parts, show a time you changed ((are we not constantly changing, especially at this age)), show a time that you were a leader, talk about how global awareness is important to you)
with this I stop listening and continue on my own college essay (life)
PS: The book The Opposite of Loneliness appeared in my Easter basket today, and I highly recommend it to all who like to spend their time reading well-written, thought-provoking books.