Antoinette J. Evans
Creative Writing 057C
When Your Words Are Enough
October 7, 2008, my mothers birthday and the date I completed my first book. Many sleepy early mornings and inebriated late nights lead to this day of me becoming an author. If it weren’t for the inspiring music collection on my laptop to take me far away from my grandmothers diluted southern accent empowered with complaints about the over use of toilet tissue and paper towels and arguments between her and my 52 year old drug-addicted uncle who‘s still living at home; arguments revolving around his laziness and his expensive need for constant food consumption, this book would still be in the planning stages. Some how I was able to escape my own reality and others around me for two months to produce volume 1, my child, that I’m determined to nurture until my existence is no longer. It’s not perfect but I love it. A few missing apostrophes and a couple overlooked displaced terms couldn’t tamper with the providing joy volume 1 has presented. In marvel of the book cover displaying my first, middle and last name, forced a natural sense of blissful pride like obtaining a 4.0 in all your quarter classes with three digit numbers behind the course name.
Fifty-two pages crowded with a years worth of poetry, thoughts I were afraid to express verbally. A number of finished pieces included my inner most deepest confessions: the dysfunctional relationships I allocated my self worth for, my love and appreciation for joints and clear liquor, a preview into my world I wasn‘t yet ready for outsiders to judge but writers take risks and I was ready to challenge my bravery.
I contacted my mother, one of few active members in my secluded support system, to tell her the unexpected good news. Unexpected for her because I declared from the beginning of brainstorming and chapter break down to keep the book process under wraps from the family unit until completion. My family has this antagonizing way to deter each other from accomplishing dreams that seem far fetched in attempt to encourage focus to be placed on dreams easier to attain, like middle school teaching and law enforcement positions, as they did with my brother who desperately desired to be an officer in the military but incessantly encountered hurdles my family labeled as “signs” to pursue another career route. Him breaking his ankle and knee due to a skydiving accident, counting as one. They tried to persuade him into a law enforcement career and me an architect, what I swore I wanted to be one bewildered high school year or a teacher like my mother once was, like they forgot since childhood big brother thought he was a G.I. Joe or the Green Power Ranger, playing with the action figures on the bedroom floor, sound effects and dialogue included. It’s a possible chance my parents accidentally forgot my mature writing skills since kindergarten too, when they first recognized the unstable fluency of my speech and sought heroically an in school speech therapist in attempt to grab forceful hold onto the potential handicap that resulted in just being that.
“Hey mom. I have some good news to tell you. Uh, I just finished my book today. Yep but I’m waiting on the ISBN number to be processed and to review the first copy that is being mailed as we speak, so please don‘t tell anyone yet mom. I know how you are. You get really excited and start informing the whole world but not until I get the ISBN number and make any minor changes.”
“Oh really? Wow, look at you, I’m so proud of you!” Her voice shrieked with over enthrallment and pride, that she only asserts five times a lifetime, pride she seems to only save for special occasions like first book releases and second lieutenant officer appointments. “Ok well just tell me when the book is available so I can tell everyone at work to support my daughter and purchase it!” Her excitement was obviously prevalent in every word enunciated. It’s been a long while since my mother had a reason to be proud; my brother and I have brought her a great deal of frustration with our lack of interest in higher education and unemployment status and the accumulating debt we owe our tolerant mother. Today she has a military officer and a self-published author to be proud of.
December 2008 a second lieutenant was born from Marine Officer Candidate School in Quantico, Virginia, not the police academy, two months after the release of my first book.
A year ago I was dreaming about becoming a published writer, being an established spoken word poet and entering the music business as a songwriter. A year ago I was spending many isolated evenings on my second floor apartment balcony off of the main university avenue, in the dark, reserved and focused, comfortably positioned on my white plastic Wal-Mart lawn chair next to my cheap ten dollar boom box from the same chain store, with a drink of something I was not of age to drink posted on the other side of the chair and something illegal rolled up2 to perfection in my free hand, typing my concealed revelations and frustrations in my Motorola Q3 about anything that was offered a meaning. Heartache, disappointments and torn friendships were common back then, my bitter state brought out the creativity in me. Mind connecting with the hand connecting with the pen or notepad in my phone has always remained my outlet.
From kindergarten to now I’ve grappled with a speech impediment that has manipulated my self-confidence into something depressing. My freedom of expression had no appearance until I learned the power behind the pen. I depended on jotting down thoughts as a channel to release everything I didn’t have the courage to verbally articulate to the world. The dread in pursuing the first syllable that usually lead to a stumbled sentence or two, flustered my nerves and discouraged me from wanting to take part in any class discussion, doctor appointment making and for years answering the phone was a nervous struggle. It wouldn’t be challenging to recall the anxiety and embarrassment I was frequently overwhelmed with in my elementary classes when asked to read a page from the textbook. I would stutter on every other word and fail to enact comprehension for the rest of my classmates and the teacher would choose a pupil with fluent English to read over the same page I just struggled to finish.
My silence developed into my virtue. Instead of using a voice I was ashamed of, I consistently observed the individuals and scenes around me, paying close attention and analyzing everything, using my self-taught knowledge to my advantage, transforming words into poetic lines of expression and emotion.
I had no idea, just a feeling, that many years of sporadic tension released writing would form a textbook length of poems that would eventually become When Your Words Are Just Not Enough - thoughts from a young black woman Volume 1.
The thoughts of this young black woman right now are aggravating; adult life is aggravating. I’m failing classes, I despise my clerical job at the construction company and the most wearisome, I just found out my roommate for the past two college years is moving back home because her fiancé gave her an ultimatum and she abided. Either their relationship or a University of California education.
It’s January now, I think, difficult to tell when the weather consistently alternates between snow boots and flip flops. My roommates presence is cold; the once jubilant blonde who had more energy than a sugar absorbed kindergartner now walks around the apartment in silence and sadness. We exchange few words and our body language screams agonizing discomfort. No more late night Super Target runs and movie weekends that brought delight into our best friendship. I even accepted her kitten into our home and I’m allergic to animals with fur. Her happiness has vanished. So has mine. For different reasons though. Her happiness has fell love stricken into her fiancés jealous palms. She said she’s uncertain of the move back home, she wants to finish school at UC Riverside and not leave me behind but she loves her fiancé too and wants to start a family now. He has abused his role as a significant other before, by breaking their union over long distance love jitters and worry woes that she might just devote her heart to one of the young men on campus who lust over her. More instances than I can keep up with he‘s pushed her in a corner to choose immature love over the right to explore her college adult passage. The two-hour long distance was causing unnecessary strain on their weak relationship and he couldn’t bare the separation anymore, so an ultimatum was established in disguise of something deeper. My happiness deficiency has transpired due to her lack of authoritarian abilities to dictate her own life and the collapse of a friendship we’ve been constructing since the dorm days.
Diluted high school love, control and self-esteem issues and visions of pink bridesmaid dresses won the battle, now I’m stranded without a roommate for the next school year and facing a lost friendship.
The friction between my roommate and I transpired into a reason to write something worthy. We had a poetry writing assignment due for my Introduction to Creative Writing course. As I do with any upcoming writing assignment I focus on life as it is that current moment, what instability I’m facing at that time, what hearts I broke or reversal or what friendships I attempted to mend but destiny provoked another path and the part time clerk position I filled at a masonry construction company position I dreaded spending twenty hours a week at. I decided to write about being an adult and the consequences of the new found independency. I included a scene of my current roommate dilemma. My T.A. loved it; I got an A on the assignment. Guess our roommate relationship ending worked out for the both of us after all.
A couple of months later they ended their union again. Guess her happiness is lost again and she‘s still wearing snow boots.
My writing skills are excelling to new levels and my thought process has undergone needed adjustments, essentially due to the unforeseen love I fell into in 2007, which has sadly carried over to 2008. It’s not happy love like my roommate thought she had, it’s depressing love, it’s not true love, just whatever my imagination describes it to be, acceptable love. My Sociology of Marriage, Relationships and Family class textbook would categorize it has infatuation but the spiritual connection we share deserves a more respectful term. Infatuation doesn’t accurately represent the texts I receive after two weeks of non-communication the same day I find myself reminiscing over the days we would exchange our recent poems in return for positive criticism. It doesn’t accurately define the mass of common themes we share alike.
I cook for him like he deserves it; we stay up late to watch the Boondocks on Adult Swim; I allow him to waste my electricity and water; we sit outside on my balcony on the white plastic Wal-Mart lawn chairs when the air whisks cold and the sun takes its position for the evening, to discuss our occupations, aspirations in becoming poets and prominent figures in the music business, school and lifes hardships, the wife he once had during his prime twenties, the children they never had and the divorced that was just finalized recently. I even allow him to restlessly sleep here. His short 5’7 stature drastically turns from side to side, waking me and himself up. What he won‘t share about his mysterious life, the time he spent glaring at steel bars, the man before and after the term served, he never elaborates on and only let‘s me partially see when his dreams won‘t let him forget his previous and chase him from midnight to suns introduction.
There was a memorable point in time when I felt a fluttering in my stomach and a warming sensation in my heart for him like the first evening we met spent discussing the underground hip-hop scene in Detroit and the untrustworthy, back stabbing souls that walk this earth portraying figures of friends. His wisdom and knowledge of a world I was unfamiliar with, the street life, the life my parents browsed and traveled but forbid their children to sample, attracted my probing senses and the book of poems by Angela Davis sleeping next to his bed encouraged a fluttering motion at the depths of my stomach. A warming sensation barraged the scene, something that resembled love at first site. I immediately fell attached to his personality and presence.
I had expectations he was incapable of juggling: a simple phone call every week, a confession of feelings, a determined direction that would numb the confusion of where our relationship was going. His life was in turmoil. I lost him but I gained my senses back. I had to escape the disillusion that a future together was destined and whatever he was going through would pass in a timely order but time became too precious to me and waiting for a change of heart from his heart disregarding my contentment was not a rational option.
The parting of ways between me and the man I thought was “the one” inspired me to refine my poetry writing skills and to write relentlessly. I reproduced a new sense of confidence and decided to step out of my safe secluded comfort zone and contact literary magazines so I could get my art published for the world to read and acknowledge, in hopes to reach and touch minds that need motivation like I did, like I still do, believing a reader or two could connect with the words I conformed into short poetic stories representing my life that reflects something from theirs.
Four literary magazines were chosen to be a part of my artistic journey that I thought would lead me to places only my dreams were prepared for. I didn’t hear back from not one magazine company. Not even the campus literary magazine I was positive I would get love from. The let down deterred my enthusiasm about writing poetry for a week. The next week I let the disappointment convert into drive and I was back at it again, completing poetic lines in short time spans consumed of life frustrations, love and roommate losses and work frustrations, as if it was my destiny to do so.
October 7, 2008, my mothers birthday and the day I became a self-published author. I’m neither an architecture major nor a business major like I thought I wanted to be, what I thought would bring my family pride and nothing satisfying for myself. The day I admitted honestly to myself, I must live my life the way I desire most to do so and disregard the few who allowed their lives to slip from the grips of their fingertips who feel responsible to direct mine. I’m a writer not a scholar, not an architect, not a middle school teacher. I’m pursuing what my stuttering has lead me to endeavor in, writing poetry and materializing into an author. My brother is a second lieutenant training and exploiting his body to harsh obstacle courses, on his strong-minded way to first lieutenant and my mother is still proud of us for converting passions into attainable dreams.