Thursday, September 18, 2014

An Elegant Protest: Pillows, Mattresses, Art

Yesterday, Bucknell had a protest in solidarity. I heard about it from the Writing Center Folks. So I pulled out my pillow and carried it too.

It started at Columbia. A senior named Emma began carrying her mattress by herself to all her activities on campus. She was raped in her sophomore year. The perpetrator was still on campus and the legal system had failed her.

She decided to make art. Hear her talk about it at Carry That Weight.

Students began helping her carry it. And the word spread. Bucknell students showed their support by carrying pillows with them to all of their activities.

I've been following the story since it first appeared online. I value what art can do and say. Emma made what I can only describe as an Elegant Protest.

Grateful to have the opportunity to protest on behalf of the women I have known and loved and cried for who have been through this.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Return to Old Spaces

I'm living in the town I lived in before I went Bulgaria.

Before Bulgaria. Bulgaria. After Bulgaria. Three sections of life that I refer to with regularity.

Living in the same space makes the past year feel like a dream. Did I actually live that way? Was I gone so long? How is it fall again?

Today is a year since the start of school. Hello School Year!

I'm in graduate school. At Bucknell.

This is a new space so it isn't quite in keeping with the title. Bucknell is on a small hill, built in red brick designed especially for them. It is a campus of "designed especially" but old enough to have the hodge podge of old objects sorted randomly on shelves only sensible to the ancient tennant of an ancient house. Why are there stone benches that don't face the mountains? Why is the registrar a window booth in a long hallway without a name? Why is the poetry center in a building by another name entirely? I don't know. I get lost often even though the campus is far smaller than my old PSU stomping grounds.

3 days a week, I climb in my red car and drive to Bucknell. My car is appropriately named after a successful Bucknell graduate (Makoto Fujimura), a connection I had not noticed until I sat down to write this post. Two hours ago, I left a reading by Evie Shockley, a poet with bold and fiery words and a smoky voice and gentle presence.

It's cool to hear poets speak again.

I'm slowly collecting people who are just back.
A classmate back from Oxford.
A college friend back from Tajikistan.
An office mate back from Germany.

We are confused and anxious about strange things. We say the phrase "Reverse Culture Shock" to help each other forgive the strange things we do. Some of us have big problems, others not so much. But we are all wandering around with a confused, "Is this really where I'm living?" We were abducted by foreign aliens; we were the foreign aliens. And now we speak easily in farmer's markets and don't understand why all the students must worry about the details in every assignment. We know that assignments aren't made by details but by the big idea in an applied context. No one hears this in class though. They keep asking about the syllabus.

The syllabus? I wish I had a syllabus this whole year! Ugh.

I'm happiest when:
I am tipped out of a canoe.
My brother tackles me to the ground.
I hear poetry.
Robbie hugs me.
Seth cooks.
I play with kids and run and screech and laugh.
I pick out children's books in a bookstore for a 4 year old's birthday party.
I go to the woods.

Returning. Expanding. Finding new ways to be in old spaces.

Did I dream Bulgaria?