All posts by millernk

When the Muses Don’t Answer

If I had a dollar for every empty-worded late night; every frantic cup of watery coffee; every annoyed backspace on a keyboard, I wouldn’t be worrying incessantly about my future as a debt victim.

I’m beginning to believe that anything ever created is either the result of a moment of absolute brilliance, or lifetimes of painstaking work. Whoever invented the wheel was most likely struck with sudden insight, or spent fifty years shredding their soul for some vague concept of movement.

Words are beauty—representations of thoughts and feelings that may otherwise go unacknowledged, even by the self. These little blooms of ideas sometimes become lost, trapped inside heads and ink stains. In those moments (days) when I lose language and words hide, I struggle to complete sentences.

Feeling like a mother who has lost control of her children, I beg. I plead, I bargain, I try everything short of selling my dignity to get them to behave. I promise cookies for the good words who come from their deep hiding places. I play music that usually charms punctuation and syntax to twirl from my fingertips.

When sounds of The Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Wu-Tang can’t persuade the words, I go for a walk. Sometimes mischievous words need time alone to cool off and come to their senses. If exercise and fresh oxygen don’t rejuvenate the words, sleep may be necessary. An overworked word can’t think straight, so yawning and grumpy, I rest for a bit and let the words settle down.

Returning to my laptop, I keep an open notebook and pen ready. When my fingers produce nothing on a keyboard, my hands feel embarrassed, and make up for a lack of words with scribbles and doodles. Often, the subconscious gliding of ink on paper calls forth the muscle memory of creation—oh, so this is how life is made.

Nonsensical swirls become words. Unrelated, irrelevant, they lead to more words. Sentences, some almost-thoughts. Feeling hypnotized, I let the words use me to breathe. After a moment, when my eyes catch the computer screen, the dread feels less dreadful. I use the energy felt during nonsense to propel into my original mission. With my words finally willing to cooperate, I play the keyboard like a piano. The lovely little clatterings sound like symphonies in the wake of uninspired silence.

Even if I don’t feel satisfied with the finished product, I am relieved to get the words out. Your entire wellbeing can be compromised if creativity is kept inside for too long. There should be clinics specifically for those suffering from suppressed creativity—finger painting, glitter, notebooks and good pens. If you try to rush the creating process, more than just the final product suffers.

A Million Little Inches of Evil

An anxious child fearing embarrassment, loud noises and scary faces internally died most severely when confronted with one particular furry creature. Bizarre muscle movements, infinite legs, no defining face—the Caterpillar. Little Natalie became paralyzed with disgust and dread when she happened upon these fuzzy life-ruiners in gardens, on trees near her swing, hanging lazily from half-devoured leaves. Continue reading A Million Little Inches of Evil

Scholarly Sentiments of an Aging Child

Dear Freshman Nat,

First of all, your hair looks amazing. Don’t go getting all angsty and chopping it all off because you crave change but are too cheap for a tattoo.

Secondly, congratulations on keeping your grades up, you nerdy nerd, you! I know your insides secretly beam each time you crack open a text book full of new worlds and concepts. You try to act cool but deep down you are dumbfounded that a place like college exists where thinking and obsessive studying are valued.

I must admit, I wish I could be in your position. All that nerding out will result in graduating a semester early, forcing you into the real world where people don’t always hold doors open and sitting under trees reading Kant all afternoon isn’t always an option. Sorry. Try skipping a few classes and failing some finals so you can stay a bit longer.

All joking aside, you did a pretty swell job being a freshman. You didn’t wear a lanyard or excessive JMU gear. You probably should invest in some kind of JMU t-shirt or sweatshirt or something, though, because at this rate you still won’t have one even in your last semester.

Also, please go to football games. I know you have “cooler” plans, but for real, show a little school spirit every once in a while. You love this place and you know you will desperately hold on to every moment like it’s the last. Every leaf you crunch on the walk to ISAT, those goofy pictures with friends, shameless naivety and blooming sense of self all add up to the sum of one amazing first year at JMU.

Those cool older friends of yours are right: these four years will disappear before you even have a chance to streak the quad. Keep having ridiculous adventures and partaking in shenanigans and talking to strangers, young Nat. You won’t regret a single moment of your time as a freshman, except maybe the fact that you can’t live every second for an entire year. Please fall helplessly in love and go to those archery club interest meetings and hang out with those kids who would make your parents cringe. Listen to those psychedelic bands and try to get dreds and take night time walks around campus when you can’t sleep. This place is your mental and emotional playground, so don’t take it too seriously. Friends and feelings come and go but the sense of freedom echoes with each Wilson Hall bell toll, on the hour, reminding you to return to reality.

You’re doing great, kid. I know you worry about the future, which will probably always be a habit of yours. You have too big of a heart and sense of adventure not to do wonderful things—don’t forget that. You have a lot to learn about yourself but I’m sure you’ll be taking notes and calculating moments of inspiration as if they were going to be on a midterm.

Keep being awkward and don’t forget to call home every once in a while!

See you around,

Senior Nat

Learning Curve

Puddle-filled walks, budding blooms, fuzzy yellow ducklings—it’s finally spring.   My version of springtime elicits fond pastel memories, my birthday and the end of another school year. As a silly human who enjoys reflecting upon and tying personal experiences with critical analysis, I can’t deny having considered my growth from last September to this spring.

I don’t entirely recognize the me I see when I look seven months into the past, but I can’t give the exact time coordinates of when I changed. Continue reading Learning Curve

No Fighting, No Biting–How to Survive in a Big Family

No Fighting, No Biting—How to Survive in a Big Family.

To begin listing lessons learned from being part of any family would be like mapping the individual genes shared between its members—an impossibly difficult task undermining the very existence of such bonds. Not all families are created equal, nor is every day identically sunny and spent in joyous company. However, to share connections so fundamentally organic with other humans—first nine months of physical being spent in the same vessel—makes petty arguments and misunderstandings irrelevant.

My parents were brave enough souls to bring seven lives into this world: seven births, seven bodies to clothe, seven little lessons. I never gave much thought to the size of my life or the sound of laughter echoing through the rafters of our Victorian house I’d like to share with you just a few of the countless pieces of wisdom I’ve learned on how to survive as a child of an above-average sized family.

Continue reading No Fighting, No Biting–How to Survive in a Big Family