Voices From the Past: A New Blog Feature

Earlier this week, while browsing Buzzfeed videos, I came across an interesting one about a woman who bought a stranger’s love letters on Ebay. They were from the 1930’s between a man and woman who were dating. He was presumed to be ill with tuberculosis during the period of the letters. The vlogger summarized the story as she interpreted it from reading the letters and became very invested in the lives of this couple. Their story ended with some unresolved questions, at least as the letters finished. The vlogger commented on how interesting it was to be seeing into the couple’s lives through the letters and how invested she was in it.

So I got an idea from the video. I decided I would look on Ebay for vintage personal letters. There are a lot available. So to narrow it down I decided to choose my favorite historical period, the World War 2 era. They are letters from veterans to their wives/families. I found a couple different sets for decent prices in the “buy it now” category. I bought two different sets, one is shipped, the other will ship tomorrow. I decided once I get them and read through them, I will create a blog post discussing the experience of reading personal letters from such a unique era, my thoughts and reactions. If they prove interesting, it could be a new hobby. I’ll update on here once I’ve received them and read through them. More to come.



Assorted Poetic Thoughts

I’m a functioning melancholic.

Looking into cappuccino foam is viewing a galaxy, the minuscule shining bubbles are stars with infinite possibility.

As an introvert I make an effort not to be memorable.

I drink cappuccinos on days I can’t afford to sugar coat my own bitter truths. Mochas are for drinking down little lies without question.

I am an eye of the storm, when colliding with the lives of others there is an immense circulating wall of feelings, flaws, and complexities. Those with the will to break through it will find an inner calm, an inner peace with who I am, and all that I have to offer. holding the storm together.

I cry before the things
I cannot have.
Then, I may claim them
In my tears.
But as all things do,
My tears return
To the earth, after all.


Coffee Themed Poem

Bitter Black

A Poem

I sit here at the coffee shop

Brewing dark thoughts

As I wait for my cup

Of caffeinated sin.

Watching the steam ascend

Lifts my soul just a bit


I grind my teeth syncing

With blending coffee

A plastic cup was brought,

Filled to the brim

As my mood poured

Out of my mind fluidly.


The barista sprayed on its

Whipped topping facade,

Mirroring my own illusions.

I was handed the coffee,

Taking a sip, but no,

The topping can’t mask the coffee,

Bitter and black.



A Different Way to Be Lonely

Don’t You Get Lonely?

There’s always a mixed tone of pity and unintentional criticism in the voice that asks me this. The topic doesn’t have to be relevant (being single, preferring to stay in over going out,  having hobbies not requiring social interaction, etc.), but the follow up question always seems the same. In the past, I always would answer no because how I enjoy quiet time or the “lonely” hobby I engage in. It’s a very automatic and familiar without a second thought. However, I have recently tried to view it through a different perspective. My answer today, and moving forward, would be: yes, I do get lonely, and that’s okay.

I believe that there is personal value in solitude, if one wants to see it. What do I do when in a time of being lonely? I reflect. I reflect on myself, my life, choices, desires, relationships. Sometimes, in states of self reflection, I learn new things about myself. I develop new explanations for aspects of myself I don’t fully understand or problem solve an internal conflict. I guess the similar term for this in psychological circles would be “self actualization”.

Society doesn’t value loneliness enough. I’ve met so many people that are lost if they aren’t constantly occupied by something. They simply do not know what to do with empty time. Most others typically think of being lonely as negative or a weakness. They see it as unproductive or boring. It is if that’s what you make it. If a more positive concept for loneliness was promoted, or the idea of self actualization, then many people would find more to gain within rather than expecting it from outside them.

Everyone should learn how to be alone. It is my thought that those are the times we discover the most about ourselves. Knowing as much as possible about myself, my strengths, and my flaws, has helped me prevent past internal conflicts from occurring again. I learn ways of preventing decisions I know aren’t in the best interest of my emotional health, even though they are tempting. How do I achieve a better understanding of myself? I write things out. The most accessible way is keeping a journal. Keeping a routine journal makes it easier to track personal growth and actualization. It’s physical proof. It’s also harder to deny truth when it is staring back at me in written words.

Another way I communicate my reflections is in my poetry. I would guess people in general will be less likely to try poetry for lack of interest or the “I’m not creative” reason. I think poetry should remain subjective, that it doesn’t have to be considered good or bad. It just needs to be honest. I use my poetry to explain my world and self as I see them. In that sense, I see my writing as true. It also helps to use imagery and vocabulary that isn’t as dry and informative as a journal entry. Vivid description and word choice helps capture ideas for a larger audience to relate with upon sharing. That is simply how I go about my self actualization and I would urge readers to find their own ways if needed.

The concept for this post came about on a gloomy day where I was left with not much else but time and canceled plans. I spent the day doing little tasks, taking a few new photos, and mostly internalizing. During that time, I learned I did pretty well with time to myself after unexpected cancellations. I got the idea that I should compose a post that would portray loneliness in a positive light to counter the grand stigma that loneliness always has to be negative. I hope I’ve done justice to that goal, at the least. Even if you’re not convinced to pick up a pen and journal or actively self reflect, I hope this post has illuminated the idea of loneliness in a new, thought provoking way for you.


Another Winter Themed Poem


A Poem

Strolling down Old Main

A chill breeze rolls through,

Winter’s first cavalry

Announcing its impending

Siege on the town.


Leaves rustle and whirl

As the sun slides

Below the horizon,

Eager to escape Winter’s grasp.


I enter an old, familiar place.


I order hot tea

And my palms hug it on arrival.

Spiced chai warmth rejuvenates

Me while I sit


Waiting for food.

Waiting for winter’s cruel descent.


Winter Is Here

For my first post containing my own poetry, I decided to look way back in my portfolio of poetry to find some that I wrote about winter time. Here in Saint Louis, MO we are being hit by a cold front. The past couple of weeks have been in the low double digits with some days in single digits. What could be more appropriate now than to share writing that derives inspiration from this bitter-cold season? The poem featured here was written a few years ago, if not more, and recently edited upon rediscovery.


A Poem

The new fallen snow is

A white, powdery dust.

My feet trek as snow

Softly crunches beneath.

Hoping I don’t lose myself

In the white world around me.

As long as I never stray.

The beauty, the softness, the serenity

Of the world captures me.

I cannot distinguish

Snow covered ground from pale hued sky.

If I should get lost

I need only to follow my tracks home.

Who wouldn’t want to be lost

In this other world of natural grace?

What more is there?

I turn and kick the snow

Covering my tracks so I never find my way back.

I have found my new home,

My true home.



New Year’s Post

I’m typically not one for “resolutions”. I view them as ways for people to make themselves feel good without any real consequences if they give up a month in. But I do see the value of setting goals. So instead of telling you I’ll “go to the gym” this year, a.k.a get a membership that won’t be used past the end of January, or start a “healthy diet” which wouldn’t go further than me drinking diet soda over regular.

Instead, I decided to come up with goals in my creative life to be my “resolutions”.

1. Continue to regularly keep my journal and engage in self reflection.

2. Try to gain a good niche of readers of this blog. As much fun as shouting at a void is, I hope some are reading this.

3. Complete my short story in progress that I’ve worked on in spurts the past couple years.

4. Keep writing.

So those are my own creative life resolutions. Do you have you any of your own? Whether they be creative or otherwise, let me know in the comments!

Perspective on The Nix by Nathan Hill

Nathan Hill’s 2016 debut novel, The Nix, is often spoken of being a “great american novel”. That is a very heavy statement to give, especially for a debut novel. While I can’t personally grant it such a sweeping title, I can understand the reasoning behind it. There isn’t anything seemingly classic or timeless in Nathan Hill’s prose that makes me think of it as a great american novel or modern classic, but The Nix does explore american themes. The biggest themes delved into are: protest culture, isolation, and how media shapes individual perspective. With these concepts The Nix is able to smoothly bridge the two eras the novel takes place in, 1968 and 2011.

Protest is the most overt connection between the two eras. The chapters set in 1968 detail Faye Andreson’s involvement with a Vietnam War protest in Chicago and how the events she experienced affected the course of her life. In the more recent setting of the 2000s in the novel, the protests are held at Republican conventions against the war in the Middle East. The author’s political bias was obvious and at times too heavy handed, seeming cartoonish (i.e. the Republican candidate Sheldon Packer). The best quality of the protest storyline was the use of multiple perspectives narrating the events. It gave a deeper understanding of the different motivations behind law enforcement and protesters alike as well as different characters involved. Simply calling The Nix a protest novel would be only scratching the surface.

The Nix also reads as a social commentary on how the media shapes our perception of the world. This is arguably its strongest quality. Hill’s novel does an excellent job showing how the media speculation of an event can vastly differ from what really occurred. In the novel, the media covers political topics much like it does in reality. The ridicule over Governor Packer is probably the most obvious example. Samuel confronts the fact that much about his false idea of Faye had been caused by media and other speculative sources. The media driven theme in The Nix is best emulated in a conversation between Samuel and his publishing editor near the close of the novel. Samuel’s editor tells him, “In case you haven’t noticed, the world has pretty much given up on the old enlightenment idea of piecing together the truth based on observed data. Reality is too complicated and scary for that. Instead, it’s way easier to ignore all data that doesn’t fit your preconceptions and believe all data that does. I believe what I believe, and you believe what you believe, and we’ll agree to disagree. It’s liberal tolerance meets dark age denialism” (709).

With that passage, Nathan Hill makes a very perceptive statement about how we, as people, allow our biases to be fueled with data that supports it whether or not contrasting data exists. For me, that was the deepest truth running within the novel that have The Nix great real world significance.

Finally, on a more personal level, The Nix is a novel about isolation. Whether it’s self imposed isolation or caused by the actions of others. The Nix explores the way it’s widely separated narrators begin alone, but, through circumstances, are able to break from their isolation and connect with one another. The most obvious example could be Samuel meeting his online friend from World of Elfscape in real life when he needs information on finding Faye. Samuel and Pwnage had known each other for years through their avatars of the online fantasy game, but Faye’s reappearance in Samuel’s life causes him to leave his quiet, isolated lifestyle in search of answers from her.

In Faye’s case, her attacking Governor Packer brings her back into Samuel’s orbit and presents a chance for her to reconnect with her son and atone for her sins. Samuel’s pursuit of Faye forces her to confront her choices and their consequences. An argument could be made that while Samuel is the presumed protagonist, Faye is truly at the center of the story. All of her actions and decisions directly affect the lives of the other characters. Without Faye the other stories have no driving motive to progress. Catapulting herself from isolation to the forefront of media scrutiny creates a ripple effect through the lives of every other character. Faye remains the catalyst for their actions, but for Samuel most importantly.

Nathan Hill’s debut has some weaknesses in its thinly veiled biases and somewhat plain writing style. I can’t agree that it deserves to be called the next “great american novel”. I can, however, say that it does explore american themes. Namely the significance of protest in our political history, the media’s influence in american life, and how people isolate themselves. One of the best aspects of The Nix is its cast of original and entertaining characters. The story of Faye and Samuel is in turns both comic and moving. The Nix is a novel that as you read it you find ways it relates to your world and it becomes real.