Commencement Speech

This is a challenge and an invite from Jane, and although I haven’t yet graduated from college, I have graduated from high school. So I have a little bit of experience. I also attended my brother’s graduation and watched the video of Rahm Emanuel give the speech for the graduates of 2009 at Sarah Lawrence College. But what would I want someone to tell me, to tell my peers? I think I’ll give it a try, see what happens.

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It’s graduation day. How are you all feeling? Hot, I bet, in those gowns. You had to pay for them, too, right? I bet you wish they’d made them a bit more comfortable. Plus, those hats can’t be fitting very well.

But hey, it’s graduation day! This means any number of things – your exams are finished, your last papers are in, your theses are written and sitting in the professor’s files. You’re all probably feeling a little nostalgic too – thinking about how soon you’ll be walking down the halls for the last time, and looking into classrooms for the last time, and eating at the dining hall for the last time, and accidentally opening the door when someone’s in there in that bathroom on the third floor that never locks. And no one ever fixes it. Maybe when you come back for your reunion in ten years, you’ll go check if that bathroom lock’s been fixed. Maybe you’ll feel happy if it is, maybe disappointed. Maybe even shocked.

Things will change. These halls will change, new flowers will be planted in the quad, a new building will be built. But more importantly, you will change. I can bet you anything that if you come down here in five years, maybe even three, maybe even in two months – you’ll be looking at it all with different eyes. Because no matter what you think right at the moment – no matter how many promises you’ve made – no matter how many resolutions – things will change.

I’m probably scaring you. You think I’m saying that you’ll lose who you are. You think I’m telling you that your dreams will go to pieces. But I’m not, not really. I just want to reassure you that it’s okay if your dreams change. It’s okay if the person you are today isn’t who you are in ten years, because even if that’s so, you’ll always remember yourselves as you are today.

It’s a big, scary world out there. But don’t think that you need to change to fit into it. If you change – like you changed majors last year, or girlfriends, or favorite writers – then it’ll be for you, for your own reasons, and you probably won’t notice it happening. But don’t let that world, the one seems larger than life and scarier than Freddy Krueger right now, don’t let it tear you down. Use it. Use your fear of it to get where you want to go. Use the things you’ve learned and the skills you’ve mastered guide you, and let your instinct tell you when you need some help, too.

Now, I bet you all want to go hug your friends and your families. Maybe you’ve got a party later on, or night in, packing up. Just remember that today is about you, and what you’ve achieved. Go take off those gowns that mark you so clearly as “COLLEGE GRADUATE” and let the rest of you come out into the open and breathe a sigh of relief that this speech is over.

Face Down, In A Drawer

You may not comprehend my emotions. I admit it, I tend to be overly dramatic at times. That trait of mine is part of my charm, however. Or so it used to be. Now, it seems I’ve become so over-the-top that I just don’t fit anymore. For someone like me, there’s nothing worse.

I started out fine. Well, that’s not strictly true. I started out gleaming, perfect, utterly spotless. I was completely black-and-white then, no doubt whatsoever between the two. Then the change began. I was worn ragged, day after day. I saw the uglier side of the world, was trodden down upon, completely used up. But see, that’s what made me cool. That’s what made me fit in to the scene I’d always wanted to be part of. I was tattooed, grungy, dirty and scruffy. But I looked good. No one could dismiss the fact that I looked damn good.

Until the day it got to be too much. Until I started not being able to function properly. I’d been so worn down, that I wasn’t a comfort anymore. I started being ignored. Week by week, I was left alone more often than not, until one day I was simply finished. Capute. Finito. Face-down in a drawer in the closet, and a new clone occupying my place.

It’s a hard life, I tell ya, being a Converse high-top.

Collapse

Some things are destroyed all at once, in a flash and with a bang. The ruin is catastrophic, dramatic, big and bold. It’s a declaration of horror and ruin, without any cause for doubt or room for discussion. There’s a sort of beauty, stark and horrible, to a ruin like this. People watch car crashes and buildings going up in flames and roadkill for this reason – there’s a beauty in the dramatic effect of a life being snuffed out or even simply in the ruin of something substantial that you wouldn’t expect to be destroyed so quickly or easily. It’s a morbid and fearful beauty, but there is beauty in it.

Then there are things that collapse from within, slowly, without drawing attention to themselves. Things stew for ages, gradually becoming worse, collapsing by degrees. It’s like something decaying, almost – there is something there underneath the surface that rots away slowly, until one day you realize that the whole thing is about to fall down completely with the slightest puff of wind or nudge of a fingertip. There is a different sort of beauty here – the frail, the pathetic, the fragile and ethereal look that sometimes comes across in this situation. It is the feeling of impending doom, but one that has been coming for a long, long time.

No matter what, there is a beauty in collapse, however wrong it may be.

Dramatic Scene…?

“I know what you’re thinking,” shot Max at Deirdre. “You’re always thinking the same damn thing. You’re thinking that I shouldn’t go. You’re thinking that I’m being stupid. Just say it already!”

Deirdre looked coolly back at Max’s angry expression. She could have scratched her face off, for plainly showing her thoughts and emotions as it so clearly was. It was too late to fix the expression that had jumped unwillingly to it when Max had told her he was going out. She settled for pretending innocence instead.

“I’m not thinking a blessed thing, boy.”

“The hell you’re not,” Max spat back.

“Well, I’ve got nothing to say to you when you’re in such a foul mood,” Deirdre didn’t give up her act, but gave Max a bland look before turning her back to him. He knew everything she could say to deter him already. It was true that she thought him a fool for going, yet again, and there was no point in having another argument on the subject. Max would do what he wanted, and that was that.

A few minutes passed. Deirdre sat at her vanity, staring blindly at her own reflection. Finally, she heard the sound that she’d been expecting. The front door slammed with a force to shake the very panes of glass in it. She shut her eyes tightly for a moment, screwing her face up in pain.

 

Max waited outside the front door, wondering if this time Deirdre would come after him. But no, the minutes passed and still there was no sound of footsteps inside the large, boring suburban box of a house. He sighed and ran a hand over his face. Taking his car keys out of his pocket, he strode off down to the curb and unlocked, with an unobtrusive beep, the luxurious car parked in front of the closed garage door. He climbed into the front seat, put the key in the ignition, and turned it.

The effect was immediate. His seat bent down all the way back, several contraptions started moving around and making metallic noises, and the car began to pull out of the driveway and zoom down the street on its own.

When Max’s seat came back up, he was dressed in a black, skintight outfit, with a white mask covering his entire face except for a slit for his eyes.

Off to save… someone, Max thought, tiredly. Damn it.

He thought of Deirdre, her shimmering blonde hair running down her back in dripping strands as she took yet another hot shower. She always took showers when he went out on jobs. She seemed to like the sensation of heat when she was upset. Max took cold showers when he was upset. It was one of the many ways in which they differed. Another, rather crucial, point of difference, was that Deirdre wasn’t a superhero. Max was. He was really very tired of it.

It Should Have Been Raining

In the books she read and the movies she watched, the weather always matched the mood of the main character. The sunny days, with breezes coming from the sea and whipping the hero’s hair around, were the good days. Those were supposed to be the days of love and laughter, high spirits and fun. The rainy days meant trouble, danger, sadness and despair – the thought that all was lost and would never be recovered.

Real life wasn’t like that, she knew, as she looked out the small window in the room belonging to her and her room-mate. There were bars on the window, of course. It wouldn’t do for the troubled patients to sneak out into the gardens at night. She wondered if the windows were small because so many of the patients were small enough to fit through slightly larger ones.

The night, she noticed, was warm. Warmer than it should be for the time of year. Perhaps, though, it was only she who was warm – she who had spent the last hour and a half sobbing into her pillow again. Her room-mate had been so annoyed by the noise that she’d tutted, gotten out of bed, picked up her pack of cigarettes, and gone out, presumably to the enclosed patio where she could smoke.

Looking out the window, she wanted to have a stern chat with Mother Nature. If movies and books were based on real life, then it should have been raining. It should have been raining.

History Being Made

My brother claims to vaguely remember sitting on the floor of the living room when he was very small and watching the Berlin Wall falling down on television. My parents obviously had the TV on that whole day in 1989, and as my brother was three years old, there’s every chance that he really remembers this historic event, however vaguely.

Tonight I had the pleasure to watch history being made as I watched President Obama, the first African American president of the United States and a man in whom I have more belief than in any other president I’ve witnessed in my short life, being inaugurated. As a cynic and often a pessimist, I know that things will not necessarily change for the better immediately, that Obama isn’t the sole ruler and that much depends on the Congress’s decisions – and yet I cannot help but be uplifted this evening, as I take in the fact that the “reign of Bush” has ended. A man who speaks in complete sentences is now in the Oval Office, and I am glad.

I don’t want to start any political arguments with this post. Mostly, I just want to point out how glad I am that I was able to watch and witness this great event – I know I will remember the swearing in of this 44th president always: sitting in the living room with my mother and my boyfriend, sighing at the wonderful speech Barack H. Obama gave, and feeling a ray of hope and sunshine filter through the television from that cold Washington D.C. morning.

Move [Part VI]


Marianne was in a chair that resembled the kind found in dentists’ offices, except that there were no trays full of sticks for fiddling in mouths beside her. Instead, she was loosely strapped into this chair at her wrists and ankles, and she was alone. Opposite her she could see a wall that was one long mirror. She knew that this wall must be a one way mirror and that the people who gave her instructions were, in fact, on the other side and watching her every move. As if it’s not bad enough that they get to see my thoughts, she thought bitterly.It had been three days now since Marianne had been taken from her cold, steel room. Miss Flanders, the woman who had collected her from there, had taken her to a spacious room, steel like the first, but warm and full of comforts. She had a comfortable bed with a thick mattress, a desk with some writing paper and pens on it, and, best of all, a bookcase crammed full of books. There was also a spare bed in the room, but Marianne was quite alone and there didn’t seem to be any other occupant at any time.

Marianne felt that she was now pampered, as if to placate her after the bad treatment she had received. Miss Flanders and the others greatly wanted her cooperation, and she was ashamed that she had given it to them, mostly because she was too weary and too scared to defy them.

But not for much longer… No, mustn’t think about that, or they’ll know. She quickly began to think about her mother again and about her sadness and aching heart and the way she missed her home. But in the back of her mind, which she had learned to hide away, a plan was forming…