About me, my passions, my words

My life

My name is Laura, and I am currently a Secondary English Education junior at Penn State University, with interests in media literacy, creative writing, adolescent literature and adolescent counseling. Besides learning, teaching, adolescents and children, I also love laughing, smiling, reading, coffee, writing, yoga, God, book shops, poetry, family, movies, anything acoustic and my fiance.

My passions

Beauty surrounds us. It is in the forests and the leaves, the smallest of streams and the most vibrant of sunsets. It is in the love of family, the laughter of friends and the chill of a winter’s night. It’s in a painter’s brush, or a violinist’s bow, or the simple smell of homemade apple pie. Beauty is everywhere, and yet, seldom is beauty associated with our school system. Seldom are the white cinderblock walls, scuffed-up tile floors, bolted down desks, high school cafeterias, chalk blackboards, reams of white computer paper and the grind of a pencil sharpener associated with beauty. Seldom, if ever, do high school students find aesthetic inspiration inside of their schools, other than in the art room or the band room. Rarely are students allowed the time to reflect and to find, much less recognize the beauty inside themselves. This is an atrocity. As an aspiring teacher, I promise to commit myself to helping young people flourish in creativity and to supporting them in their quest for understanding, by helping them to see the beauty in the natural world, their immediate world, and inside of themselves.

My Words

So you want to know why I love words? Books, love notes and theater all require words. As an only child, books were my main way to escape solitary confinement. As a school-girl, love notes always made my stomach flutter. And, as an actress, words were my limelight, my one way to fame. Do you want to know why I love poetry? The first real poem I ever wrote, actually wrote by myself, made a boy cry. Then, there were the poems that made me cry – the poems from a different boy: an inspirational, artistic boy who could suckerpunch the salty tears out of my deep-green eyes with one solid haiku. I can’t exactly explain why words touch me the way they do, but I will say that a fantastic set of prose is capable of knocking me to the floor, wrenching out some inner part of my stomach, throwing me against a wall, and spinning the world around me for at least a couple of minutes. I agree with writer T.S. Eliot when he said, “Poetry may make us from time to time a little more aware of the deeper, unnamed feelings which form the substratum of our being, to which we rarely penetrate; for our lives are mostly a constant evasion of ourselves.” Poetry and words in every form have helped me to search both inside of myself and outside of my immediate surroundings, and have allowed me to better see the intricacies and beauty in every aspect of my life.

Words – just a combination of characters arranged in a customary order – have a profound way of easing me through emotionally hard times. I was flying to Texas, rushing to get there before my grandmother died. I wrote, while crying, sitting in the window seat of a Boeing 747 next to a stranger; a nice man in pale Levi’s and a cowboy hat, on his way back home to Texas. My grandmother was a Christian woman, an artist, and a poet. She prayed every Sunday, wrote poetry in the margins of the books she read, and painted with watercolor on porcelain vases and dishes. She was southern-sweet, and beautiful, and I rarely got the chance to be around her or get to know her very well. I long to still have outrageously personal conversations with her, and to sit with her again at the small table against the wall in her kitchen. That week, in Texas, I wrote more than ever before in my life: in my Aunt’s spare bedroom, under cedar trees, on that table in Grandma’s kitchen, and again in the window seat of a Boeing 747, next to someone familiar this time – my dad, her faithful son, a sweet man in pale Levi’s and a baseball cap, on his way back home to Pennsylvania. Through tears, under trees, and on planes I strung letters into words and spun words into sentences which then collected into paragraphs and chapters about the intricacies of life, and the ironies of who we know, how well we know or knew them, and how and where they died. I was flying while my grandmother was dying. And as I wrote, I ached through the syntax and black Baskerville font of long-winded prose about myself and my emotions; my deepest, unknown feelings.

I love words because I love history. I want to know who my Grandma was; what she did, said, loved and wrote. I want to know what life was like during the Great Depression, the stories from Biblical times, and the truth of God’s Word. Growing up as a Bible-believing Christian has allowed me to see the power of words – God’s words – plunging people to their knees, and turning lives around. Those words – just simple letters strung together – tell of truth, promise, and hope. And through these words, telling the history of the world since the very beginning of time, I want to become more aware of the women I descended from, the woman I am, and the woman that I want to become.

I love words because I love lyrics and music, daydreaming and remembering. I want to dance to the words of Elvis, and Sinatra, and Etta James; sounds that far pre-date my young dancing feet. Or, I want to write lyrics, tying parking lot moments to melody and putting love in the space between eighth notes. I want to come up with songs about life and why it keeps catching me off guard, and sing words to downbeats, overtones and the key of G. I want to move people with choruses, and allow the words to mold and make the melody.

I love words because I love geography: “the study of the Earth and its lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena.” I want to understand the Earth and all of its human and natural complexities; not merely who and what we are, but why we are and what will become of the human race, the earth, its land and its features. I want to write about mother nature and read about the future of the environment, of space, and of brave new worlds. I want to traipse across wide expanses of empty, arid deserts, trudge through swampy forested jungles, and soar high over Hiroshima in antique bombers. I want to fill tissues with the sorrows of the Holocaust, and be there the day the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, the year I was born. I want to immerse myself in the landscape on the pages, and the landscape in the words and between the words, until the words sink so far deep into my being that I can’t remember whether it was them or I who fell off the swingset as a child, who fell in love with a boy off at war, or who cried the day the towers fell. I want to experience the geography that I cannot explore in person, in my imagination. I want to be all over the world, in the sky, and under the sea. And I want words to take me to undiscovered places in my imagination, dark hidden closets of my mind, and to deserted islands of thought just waiting to be found.

I love words because I love topography. In many ways, life is like topography: peaks of happiness, mountains of pain and hardship, flat stretches of monotonous routine, valleys of frustration, stagnant plateaus, and rivers flowing with joy. The day my Grandma died, I watched the land below me fall and rise. I watched the topography of the earth transform from city, to suburb, to fields and back. I felt the topography in my own life flatten and fall, pass through isolated, uninhabited stretches and solemn valleys. I felt like a remote stream, separated from my body, from my family, from the world and all of its topography. I sometimes dream that perhaps my Grandma’s spirit passed by the window of the airplane that day on her way to heaven. In writing, I love the rise and fall and evocation of emotion brought on by a collection of words that etch themselves like rivers into my memory. I want to map out the world of literature and, with words, cause a topographic rise and fall of emotion, and understanding.

I love words because I love tasting, touching, hearing, seeing, smelling, and fully sensing this world around me. It’s not a formula – it’s worse than a formula – discovering ways to accurately capture each of the five senses on flat, two-dimensional paper. And, while I cannot deal with any formula requiring numbers, I love the formula of the senses which requires words. When I get stuck, I write about the world around me: the sweet aroma of warm baked chocolate brownies moving densely and comforting through the air; the leafless trees blowing in the spring breeze before a backdrop of light blue sky; the steady hum of the refrigerator; the silky touch of laptop keys beneath my fingertips. I love using words to capture the senses and memories so vividly that anyone, through reading, can experience the beauty of the scene too. I love using words to capture the senses; so that one day, when I’m old and dementia is setting in, I will be able to sit back and read the writings of my past, the journals I have filled, and be overcome once again with the feeling of my Grandmother’s soft-silky skin, the warm smell that filled her kitchen as she cooked pancakes, and the spicy taste of her boiled crawfish seasoned just right. The poet Sharon Olds said, “I think this is true for all artists. My senses are very important to me.” As a writer, I want to create a world as rich in sensory stimuli as the world around me.

Since beginning college, I have learned to love the silence that falls between words: the space between sentences and between the letters, the thought that occurs after a paragraph, a phrase, a tragedy, a question. The space is what gives the characters meaning. Takeawaythespaceandthebeautysuddenlyvanishesfromthepage. To write, read, and even thoroughly think, I need absolute silence. Silence that allows the words in my mind to appear and then form, before traveling through my veins, my blood, my mental synapses, and onto the screen.

Lastly, I love words because I love poetry. I love measuring the meaning of life in short, succinct, beautiful lines, filled with rhythm, beat, symbolism, passion, emotion, tone and the senses. Poetry is to a blank page as paint is to a blank canvas. Only, instead of oil, it is the words that form the new meanings and stunning images, in stanza form. I understand Robert Frost when he said, “Writing a poem is discovering.” Writing poetry has allowed me to understand myself better as a person, and as a writer. My writing identity stems greatly from my poetic identity. How I learn, who I am, what I desire, dream, love and hope for, can be found first in my poetry, and then in my writing. In many ways, to know my poetry is to truly know me. – written fall ’08

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2 responses

3 03 2010
Try Different-A PLN Progress Update « Caitlin's PLN Blog

[…] of my writing. I decided to add the page because I was so impressed by Laura Young’s additional pages–so thanks Laura. I also added categories to each of my blogs. I think that this not only will […]

6 04 2010
Self-assessment « Teach Simplicity

[…] About me, my passions, my words […]

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