Daily Prompt

Music from the Pen- my Riff

 

A riff: a short repeated phrase in popular music and jazz, typically used as an introduction or refrain in a song.

Simply, an intro.

Specifically, a musical intro, like what we hear at the beginning of our favorite songs, performed by some sort of instrument (in my case, that would be a Christmas instrumental- yes, I am that person; and yes, I am very aware it’s not even Thanksgiving yet, my family’s ears have my sincerest apologies).

I think, like a song, we all have our own riffs.

When I pick up my pen to write, or my pencil to draw, there is a riff. It’s not when I’ve actually put pen to paper and jotted down my thoughts into well-worded statements of eloquent intention, complete with scripted curtsy. It’s not when I’ve hit “Publish!” after reviews and revisions, laying my work out for the world to see. It’s not when I’ve put the final shading touches on my drawing, accepting that there is no more to be done, that this is the finished piece.

I think, it’s the thoughts.

Right before I hastily pull out a pen from my purple pencil pouch and scurry to get the words into my sea-blue journal in case I forget, there are the unwritten words. Before the unwritten words there’s a feeling, an emotional trigger, some event that makes it impossible for me to do anything except write- I have to get it out, on paper. I have an awful tendency to hold my emotions in, especially the really toxic ones (I know I know, that’s the opposite of what everyone recommends, buuut tell that to my brain). Writing allows me to spill all these racing, tumbling, chaotic words without hurting anyone around me- and by ridding myself of this buildup, I’m better equipped to help those around me.

After the feeling, the trigger, and before the words are visible, permanent black stains on paper, there are the thoughts.

My unwritten words.

My riff.

They’re my introduction, a little snippet of who I am at my innermost core. It’s not the prim and polished monologue I’ve put together for the public viewer, but it’s not empty space either. It’s somewhere in the middle I think, a world between void and viable: this refrain is the most important piece because with it someone can get a sense of who I am in my entirety, a measly melodic taste of my true song, but without it I wouldn’t be me.

What’s your riff?

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Daily Prompt

Black on White

Yesterday evening my mom and I went shopping to fill those little shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child (I could fill boxes like that all day if I had the money, I can just imagine the joyous smile on a little girl or boy’s face when she/he opens my box, ohh my heart). Once we got home, I told my mom to wait on packing the boxes up, because I wanted to find one of my old drawings to stick in each box with a personal note and pencil. So, I go up to my room and start rummaging through my old boxes of  sketch pads–I found the drawings and took care of that–, and in the process find an old notebook. It’s purple and worn, the tips of the metal rings a little bent out of shape from being roughly shoved into a bookbag, and I wonder why I didn’t just throw the poor thing away, put it out of its misery. Well, ‘curiousity kills the cat’ as they say, so I humor myself and open it.

On the last page, it reads, in the unruly scrawl of sixth grader Jordan:

“First full journal ended on November 12th, 2010. But it was started thanks to Ms. Bowles, my 6th grade English teacher.”

Now, despite the joy of picking out the Christmas shoe box items, I’d actually had a bit of a mental breakdown yesterday: I’m in the middle of my second year of college, which means I have very little time to decide exactly what I want to do for the rest of my life; how I can best use the gifts God’s given me, even though I’m not sure I know what those gifts are; and I essentially need to know how to adult, how to fend for myself, how to pay the bills, all once my college years are up. No pressure. In the midst of this dilemma, I was stressing to my mom, how I’m not sure if I’ll even like teaching, let alone what grade or subject. Thoughts of  ‘elementary school kids?’ then ‘no, maybe middle school- how about English?‘ and finally ‘heck, who said I’d make a good teacher in the first place?‘ were all swirling in my head- up until the moment I found that purple, worn notebook.

I’ve always enjoyed daydreaming and creating stories, especially fiction, but until I started that journal in sixth grade, I’d never put pen to page and started recording these precious words in writing. Today, writing–in the simplest definition possible–preserves my sanity. It can be a word, a phrase, or an entire story that pops into my brain because of some unknown trigger, but now I put it on paper, capturing these thoughts forever. Black ink stains on white notebook paper may not be the gallery of a renown painter, but in my eyes, they can leave an impression every bit as striking. Through that notebook, I found renewal and comfort, a reminder of all I am capable of doing- things I can’t possibly imagine yet.

All thanks to one sixth grade english teacher’s first prompt:

“What is your first impression of 6th grade?”

Daily Prompt

Neophyte to blogging

Call me an oddball, but I’m nineteen years old and don’t get technology. Those mandatory typing classes required in elementary school? The worst cummulative class grade I’d gotten up to that point. Due to my “millenial” status, it’s naturally assumed I can whiz my way through computers, laptops, gizmos, and gadgets in a technological breeze- while simultaneously scrolling through any number of media outlets on my phone (I can’t tell you how long it took me to adjust to Instagram, and I won’t even go into my Snapchat beginnings, #winnerofthemostunflatteringselfie).

Let’s not even mention the suggested photography skills (unless it’s of my critters, just assume my images are from the lovely people across the world who can actually take a good picture- thank you guys for putting them on the Internet, that’s a talent God wisely left to y’all and not me).

Today, when we’re taught what employers are searching for–leadership skills, public speaking skills (can I get a collective shudder?), and the such–, technology skills rank higher than almost any other. If I can’t fluidly operate a laptop, somehow my likelihood of being employed diminishes, even if I am the most hard-working, positivity-spreading, team-inspiring applicant. I just need a little extra help with the computer stuff, that’s all.

Have any of you ever had to sit down with your parents and try explaining how to do something on their cell phones? (We love you parents, I promise, but it’s even more excruciating for us than you- believe me.) Well, in my family it was twice as painful, because most times I wouldn’t even know how to do it. Start with an irritated, confused parent, add a dash of helpless, confused child, add in the other irritated, confused parent, and voila! You get a frustrated, still-confused family cocktail, ready to serve.

Electronics are beautiful things, don’t get me wrong. People can come up with the most marvelous inventions with the help of handy-dandy electronics, inventions that better the world- and we can do it together. I can unite with people across in the world in praying for situations like the recent one in Texas (my heart goes to each of you still suffering), a feat unimaginable just a few decades ago. It’s beautiful, wonderful, and maddening, conveniently wrapped up in a neat little package. It’s going to be those three and more as I brave the blogging world as a neophyte, but I plan to enjoy every minute of it.

 

 

Daily Prompt

Eleven years too short

Rocky

Sure, a shelf life can be applied to something in your fridge, your pantry, or your makeup bag (I’m sorry, but until that three month old mascara clumps its way into the trash, its nine dollar tube is staying right where it’s been… for the past three months). We push and prode and poke and pinch the shelf life to its limit, stretching every precious dollar we poured into it- because that five dollar thing of strawberries is not getting tossed out till somebody eats it!

But what, then, when the shelf life isn’t our’s to push?

For as long as I can remember, my family has had dogs: black, white; short, tall; lazy, frenetic. Some of my earliest memories revolve around wet kisses (until you’ve had a bulldog, you will never quite understand the actual grossness of slobber- they have a category all their own) and wagging tails. My darling Cagney has been with me since I was in the fourth grade: chocolate brown eyes, sneaky pink tongue, and that mischevious little white stripe mid-forehead. In elementary school I sang Disney’s “A Whole New World” to her in melodic screeches; in middle school, I ranted to her about the ghastly unfairness of life (of course, I knew everything at thirteen years of age, didn’t you?); in high school she listened to every single one of my boyfriend woes and college dreams. I truly cannot imagine life without the companionship of a dog, for they really are man’s best friend; they’re my best friends, confidantes I can entrust with my deepest secrets and even my very life if it came down to it. I’m of the firm impression that whoever so eloquently stated that “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend” couldn’t possibly have owned a dog.

Dogs don’t come wrapped in neat little plastic packaging, clear-cut and crisply labeled with a “Best used by” date on their sides. How much better it would be sometimes, I think, if they did- if we knew exactly how long we’ll have them around and when they would have to leave us…

As if it would ever truly prepare us for their expiration dates.

Daily Prompt

First blog post

Freshman year of college was probably the loneliest year of my life.

Hardly anyone from my high school had bravely traversed the great oceanic divide from high school to college and colonized the same institution as I did. Friends are not easily made- at least, not for those of us painfully shy, horridly awkward individuals who can’t seem to get a proper sentence out in time to present a semi-normal front to a random stranger in the hallway, all in a matter of ten seconds. Worse yet than my shyness, “hello”‘s and “how do you do”‘s seem to be an oddity in the minds of individuals under the age of 25; instead, there’s this disease sweeping through that has erased the remnants of polite small talk and chit-chat. This disease has symptoms of an aching neck and twitching fingers, lost communication skills and disinterest in society; this disease? Cell phone reliance. But that’s a story for another time.

Exploration is not always the exciting, carefree, fun-filled fiesta some will make it out to be. Due to my rough beginnings, I spiraled down a depressed perspective that erected a spiky, dark, chilly prison in the place of four classroom walls. I couldn’t turn to my family, I had maybe a handful of friends left, and there were no familiar ties between me and my teachers. I was completely and utterly

alone.

I came to realize that I, actually, was not left to face these challenges and uncomfortable situations alone, that I had a Father above who I could share every struggling thought with, who would be ready to listen no matter what or when. In His goodness, he opened my eyes to the fact that I am not the only one who went through such a stumbling transition, that He can use my weaknesses to maybe comfort someone else, even if it is just one other person in this great big world. To bring hope to one lost lamb? That’s more than enough in the eyes of the Shepherd.

So, I hope that this blog- sharing my thoughts, my struggles, my good and my bad- serves as an outlet not only for my dreams, but His.