Thursday, October 31, 2013

Creativity- Emotionally Inspiring or just Hard Work for achieve?

Cristi James
Tender Bliss
Graphic Design
I once wrote a Editor's Dedication for CF's IMPRINTS Magazine:

"Throughout our lives the artist's heart and mind travels through a boundless journey of observation, resulting in various forms of positive and negative memories.  We take these memories and turn them into the heart of our craft-- Imagery.  This heart involves one or more of the five senses: to see, to hear, to taste, to smell, to feel.  If our craft is done well, all of these wonderful senses will stir inside the minds of the reader. They will hear the rain spattering onto vibrant Autumn leaves and smell the cracked, dry earth softening from the moisture.  They will see the air swirl from the flapping of a bird's wings rising in flight from the bounds of a painted canvas. They will feel the heartache of a long-lived marriage dissolve, or the longing of a student experiencing his first crush, crazy about his school teacher.

The journey our staff has taken this past year has led to endless paths of self-discovery.  We have sweated through the trials of losing layouts, and cheered at the joy of completing our very first campus-wide, student-only magazine.  We hope dear reader, that IMPRINTS will provide a respite from the daily travails of your life. Maybe, it will even serve as inspiration to delve into your own heart's journey and find the boundless wisdom held within."

It wasn't something that I struggled with, it was just "inspired".  So, how did it come to fruition?  A love for what I was doing?  Music, a great piece of art, someone else's work, or even a great quote?  Nope, it was the love of Imagery that jumped out from the magazine itself. I don't always do imagery justice. She is a force to be reckoned with, hard to hit, and hard to tie down for me. I don't just see the Schlage worn out silver key; or hear it as it taps against the beaded bracelet intertwined with the key ring as I open the door.  I also feel the smooth steel round top between my fingers as I struggle to get the key into the lock slot (our door is so messed up).  I feel the slight pain of my fist pounding against the handle of the door as I try to get the door to un-stick. It is every step that I see in my mind's eye.

Imagery is not always a great thing though. I mean, sometimes I get so stuck on the details and the adjectives used to describe those details that I lose the reason to write-- to tell a story. 

Narrative Poetry, Memoirs are more my strength. As I write, I tend to do short stories, flash fiction and novels too detailed that I get lost in my own story. The denouement  is without feeling as if I am rushing over it to the conclusion. 

So, how do I go about writing with a purpose and write freely at the same time?  I haven't a clue... I can only imagine it comes from sitting down every day and just putting pencil to paper or fingers to keys and begging my brain synapses to fire up like a faulty shredded electric cord.

I don't get inspired by the classics. Sorry Ernest, you just don't do it for me. It's not about the author or narrative's POV that gets me, it's the life that I live in the story itself. In INKHEART, the fun part is the characters entering into the reader's world. This is not a new form of writing; The movie The PageMaster does the same thing. I have ALWAYS been sucked into the story I am reading. Sometimes I am so deep in that I become one of the characters, just like in INKHEART until I am abruptly jolted out of the story by one of my family members. The Character's personalities and their experiences are what inspire me. 

The same thing goes for creativity in my art, teaching, playing the piano and the guitar. It is all about the emotions that is invoked through my fingers, ears and eyes that ends up inspiring my heart.  I love deep, warm colors and texture. These things have got to be in a piece of art to make my heart skip a beat. Of course, dark colors like grey, black and dark purple will ALWAYS create a chill through my veins. For some reason those colors continually make me think of the Macabre. Yet, interestingly enough, dark red, does not. Go figure! (shoulders raised and lowered in a shrug...)

I'm curious to find out what inspires you to be creative...  (leave comments in my comments.)

*Art Work courtesy of College of Central Florida's Imprints Magazine. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Who in your Life is Crazy Talented?

Case opened
tiny hands tenderly
lift the S-shaped instrument.
tucked under her chin,

bow set on strings,
a soothing melody
reverberates through
the antique wood.

Eyes closed,
body swaying,
my mind
is enthralled.

Her talent
not in her hands
but in her loving,
friendly manner,

affects all
walks of life.

She is my little sister.

Social Media-- Is it real or is it Memorex?

Social Media— 
we all use it. We talk to our friends from High School, college, work and the old neighborhood. We read their posts on what they are doing during their day; the fun adventures they are experiencing during their vacations. We see pictures of their kids whom we have never met or the ones we last saw when they were toddlers and we act as if they are the closest friends in the world and gush over those sweet little faces. I mean, don’t you feel that they are sitting next to you chatting over hot cocoa and buttered Rye bread because that’s all you have in the house?

Do we ever acknowledge the disillusion of Social Media? We look at our friends witty posts and we decide we could never be that funny. We see the beautiful couples with their super clean kids and we think that we are the ones that have the messed up families. What we don’t understand is that everyone has a messed up family we just choose to gloss over the unhappy to make everything seem peachy keen. 

If we were living realistically shouldn’t we see posts such as:

Monday Morning: Today sucks, the dog crapped all over the brand new rug. Child #5 just puked all over the dog and my gagging reflux is kicking in. I hate being a mom!!! 

Tuesday Afternoon:  I am broke, how in the world am I going to pay the bills?  My house is underwater, the paint is chipping and my dead beat husband is sleeping on the couch fulfilling his potential. Why I am still married to him?

Saturday Evening: Here I sit eating a gallon of Mexican Chocolate ice cream by myself. When am I ever going to find the person of my dreams? Could it be because I am in my pajamas all day long and hate the way I look? Who in the world is going to want this?  (Then a real picture of themselves.)

Would we ever really see these type of posts?  Well, maybe if it was written tongue-in-cheek. But never the whole honest-to-goodness truth.  What does this do to our self-esteem?

I know that I spend too much time on Social Media and I get depressed thinking that I am not half the person that I want to be or how my friends are. This is the negative part of Social Media. We compare ourselves to each other, we feel that we could be so much happier living in the big city (or the small city like Gilmore Girl’s Sand Hollow,) or having a certain career.
We look at others and are quick to judge them just by a picture. We make wild accusations when they write a post that is truthful; we never typing what we are thinking, we just “think” them out loud in your own house. 

Seriously, I overheard a conversation at the college library one day about someone who has gained weight and how much their lives must stink because of it. Okay… talk about shallow.
There are other times though where I am so thankful for social medial. When I find a long lost friend, or talk to family whom I might not have a phone number for. I know that doesn’t mean we are “best” friends, but it is nice to reconnect. 

Social media can be uplifting and therapeutic— One day after we moved from Santa Clara, I was super sad. I was missing Devin and my friends in Utah and as such gave a little cryptic woe-is-me type post. Low and behold, not only did a good Utah friend catch my mood, so did one of my newly acquired friends. I cannot tell you how much the new friend showing up at my door with a plate full of cookies meant for me and we talked for hours. (She knows who she is…)

Social Media can be educational— we find groups that have the same driving ambition as we do. They encourage, support and give great ideas on how you can be a better writer, artist, sister, friend, wife, child or parent. One of the best pages on Facebook that I have found is a page called Humans of New York.  Brandon, a photographer, goes throughout New York and talks to the average Joe Schmoe, and connects with them just enough to ask them one pertinent question, such as: what would you tell a large group of people? Amazingly enough, those (as most tag them, not me… I’m a New Yorker by birth,) tough, unfriendly New Yorkers will talk to him. It’s usually a few sentences but what they give is deep and touching.

Do we act different when we are online than when we are sitting at the dinner table with our family?  You bet we do!  It is kind of like having your own family and then going to your parent’s house and sinking back to your childhood self.  Why do we do this? I feel it is because we have a certain respect of our parents that makes up not want to disappoint them by talking back in case you hurt their feelings.  When we are at our dinner tables we are our natural self (one would hope,) on Social Media as I said before we fear letting people see our weaknesses because we want our old HS friends to know we are not the same awkward, geeky, brace-faced person or that our super cool, hot looks have diminished and we are a faded version of the red rose we used to be.

Let’s be honest, how many of your friends have a “thinner” versions of their real-self as their profile pic?  We want to be seen as our best-self. I know I have done that before.  Haven’t you?
I guess overall Social Media can be considered whatever you make it. 

How do you feel about Social Media? Which is your favorite platform?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Florida College System Publication Association’s 54th Annual Awards Banquet

It's been odd not being part of CF's Imprints this semester. The only highlight is that I get to attend the Awards Banquet to see how the magazine does this year. My worry is that we won't place in anything or place low and not to the usual standard of 1st or 2nd place.  As the 2013 editor, it all rides on my shoulders even though, I have to remember that things are not always what we want to put out. As my editor dedication stated. We went through losing our layout and cramming it all in 4 days to publish it. This makes me a nervous Nelly, my editor's hat wasn't on for more than 1 hour at the end... I think that really sucks. WE will see what happens.

IMPRINTS magazine placed in 2 categories:

Judge: Lester Goran
Division A
First Place: Richard Lee (“A Lonely Scarecrow”), Howl! (Spring Term), Florida Gateway College Judge's Comments: “A poignant depiction of a strong sense of loss told from an unusual vantage.”
Second Place: Jessyca Thibault (“A Black Hole”), Imprints, College of Central Florida Ocala Campus Third Place (Tie): Bruno Leite (“Excitement, Intelligence, and Denial”), Aeolus, Daytona State College Third Place (Tie): Neylin Castrillo (“Marks”), Café Cultura, Miami Dade College Hialeah Campus
Division B
First Place: Jankarlo Gonzalez (“Jonny B.”), Phoenix, Valencia College
Judge's Comments:
“This is a nice recapturing in form and content of an earlier time.”
Second Place: Jerron Feaster (Page 23), Metromorphosis, Miami Dade College Wolfson Campus Third 
Place: Bryan Aguilar (Sonnet to a Kiss”), Miambiance, Miami Dade College Kendall Campus 

Two-Page Spread
Division A
First Place: Kelci Elliot, Robert Gaskill (Pages 18-19), Mobius, Pasco-Hernando Community College Judge's Comments: “Powerful art and text combine to create a unified feel. Good work.”
Second Place: Lawrence Grimm, Jessica Keith, John Picione (p. 70-71), Aeolus, Daytona State College Third Place: Sandra Brower, Ashley Kinney (Pages52-53), Imprints, College of Central Florida Ocala Campus
Division B
First Place: Heather Vazquez (Pages 50-51),
Phoenix, Valencia College
Judge's Comments:
“Nice connection with the verbal and the visual; graphics and design help unite the magazine, especially this spread.
Second Place: Chelsea Fernandez, Claudia Gonzalez (Pages 22-23), Axis, Miami Dade College North Campus Third Place: Nick Griesbach, Giannina Valles (Pages 46-47), Triad, Hillsborough Community College 

Well, lookie here:  one of those awards is for one of my submissions!  I was so excited and pleasantly surprised. I guess that the 4 day hectic, crazy madness wasn't all in vain even though it didn't win as many awards as last year. 

Here is the poem that went with that submission:  

Sea, Sand and Love

The waves hit the flattened tan shore
like dolloped whip cream on a pie.
She was soothed by its sounds,
In her heart she screamed for warmth
instead of the icy coldness
penetrating through her soul.

He walked ten feet in front of her.
How was she supposed to break
through the brick wall
he had erected around himself?
She walked quickly, grabbed his hand
Then was rejected. 

Instead of working through it
she focused on a sandpiper
skittering along the water’s edge;
it’s needle-pointed beak jabbed
at the sand for food.
reminiscent of the words
that had come out of his mouth
not more than 15 minutes ago.

She lets it all float away out of her heart
like the water carrying shells and sea plants
back out into the surf.
Skipping along the foam
she wished he’d take off
his sneakers
join in the fun­­­,
he was such a stick in the mud
never thinking to join her.

This is her life, the tide of happiness
receding in and out
against the soft or rough sands
disappearing in the blink of an eye.

and the picture was of a churning brown sea... Yeah, it presented the feelings the gal in the poem was going through. 

The activity that I miss the most not being on the IMPRINTS staff is working with the Student Body Activities Board. I guess, when I get back on campus in January, I will have to join a club and ask to be the rep for said club or apply to be on the board. I wonder who I contact for that.  (Ah, a mystery... I love solving mysteries.)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Delicacies of Life

This little ditty was found in my drafts amongst the previous winter's posts. How did I not post this? Well, I guess it's better late than never as they say (who is they, anyway?).

It wafts through the air and into my brain,
Like the licks of it's flame I can see it.
Red, blue, green, purple and pink 
chairs unfolded.

Light shines down on us from the
Great harvest moon.

We stick our marshmallow rods into it's warmth,
smashing them on graham squares
smothered with Hershey's chocolate.
Mallow and cocoa
melt out the corners of our mouths. 

Pwhew- pwhew- pwhew.

It's orange swirls
darkens gooey whiteness to black.
"Oh, thats too bad now it's burnt too much to eat sweetie,"
is heard around the circle.
A tiny blonde Imp pops the burnt fluff into her mouth.
"It's the way I like it," she croons.

Crackling, popping, spitting
it clouds our eyes.
Every once in a while someone moves to an empty seat 
as if we are playing
Musical chairs. 

The content noise of happy people.

seated besides a rippling Florida pool
It's unseen fragrance transports me 
to my daughter's first camping trip.

Photo source: SXC

Monday, October 07, 2013

In Towns Gone By

I think I need to hop a train and head off exploring again. My wanderlust is calling.

A visual prompt while journeying from D.C. to NYC via Amtrak.

In Towns Gone By

Blasting past town, the silver bullet rail
rains dry dust on small weeded lots
filled with tousled grey boarded homes.

Sitting in crumbling rocking chairs 
blue/white-haired ladies
fumble hooked crochet sticks in and out
of their last row of muddy brown yarn
Slightly resembling a sweater.

Intermingled amongst the women 
are a few broken down, doddering
old men snoozing- 
dreaming of days gone by

Impatiently the women's hands move up, 
hook here, loop through and pull,
wondering when their 
young folk will be arriving home.

The air is stagnant as if life 
has exhaled it's last breath.
Like a breeze, 
the sound of whistling proceeds
weary men shuffling through the streets
joyfully anticipating a meek 
dinner prepared by their wives.

Cries of hello and see ya later 
fill the air as the young men step onto  
chipped stoops. Like a carefully choreographed dance
dirty children burst out of different doors
And run into stiff arms smothering wet
kisses onto the necks of their fathers.

Wiggling free, the men sit
leaning back into moldy chairs
and talk to the old folks.
Others enter their homes
all are waiting 
—for dinner.

Wives hugged and dinner
devoured families spill back 
on the porch.

The witching hour has approached
that time when brains vacation,
bodies melt comfortably in the cooling shade
and all is right with the world.

Too bad the devil's work 
will start all over in the morning.