“We are the nobodies, we wanna be somebodies…”

October 8, 2009 Leave a comment

Expectation is humanity’s greatest affliction. We, as humans, read so much into things. We want to think that there’s meaning behind the mundane phenomena of every day life, that those small actions we perform are working towards some greater good, or some final actualization of our being. We want to think that we have a purpose in this life, and that the awards we will reap from the fulfillment of our destinies are worth every trial and hardship we must endure in order to reach that final peace.

We push ourselves. Push ourselves to succeed, to get ahead, to make a difference, to make our voices heard, to achieve that sense of purpose we’ve always longed for. But for what end? At some point in our lives, we realize that, in pushing ourselves into overdrive, we have not, even for a minute, actually lived. We have spent all our time scratching and clawing our way up the ladder, only to find nothing but a patch of empty air at the top.

Why can we never be satisfied?

We have brought such great disappointment upon ourselves.

Categories: Ideas and Opinions

Shadow Elemental

September 26, 2009 Leave a comment

Shadow Elemental

A drawing I did while at VAMPY (Verbally and Mathematically Precocious Youth) camp this past summer, with Photoshop improvements, of course. Magic: The Gathering is a pretty popular game among VAMPY nerds, and they told me it looked like a shadow elemental. Whatever that is.

Categories: Art Tags: ,

Epiphany

September 24, 2009 Leave a comment

Just a little something that often crosses my mind.

***

“I think, therefore I am.”

It’s a simple statement, upon first glance. But when you take a moment to think about it, really think about it, it reveals itself as a profound truth.

I am surprised, every day, by the simple fact that I exist. When I look in the mirror, it takes me a moment to realize that the eyes in the glass that so boldly meet mine are indeed, well, mine. My name seems foreign, like it ought to belong to some other soul, and yet when I try to cast it off I can think of no other name for myself. My surroundings are soft around the edges, as they would be in a painting, and even when I put my glasses on and the lenses put everything in focus, I still feel as if nothing around me is tangible. Is this reality?

And then comes the daily epiphany.

This is real. I am real, not some figment of my own imagination. This universe, vast beyond comprehension, is real.

That’s a lot of reality to take in.

I suppose most people are naturally aware of, or in-tune with reality. I, on the other hand, feel almost perpetually disconnected. So, laugh at me if you will, but this daily realization is one of those little things in life that I cherish, one of those moments that reminds me that I am indeed alive.

The Great ‘Divorce’ of American Society: Part 2

September 24, 2009 Leave a comment

Dad’s cold reply, though not exactly out of character, took us both by surprise. Sitting across the table from my mother, I saw a look of pain pass briefly over her face, then vanish, leaving behind an unreadable mask set with two vacant, staring eyes. I could feel the tension in the air, like a string stretched taut between them. And there I was again, a tightrope walker, trembling on that string, weighed down by the awkward silence that ensued. Yet one couldn’t really call it silence. I could hear the unspoken words, sense the emotions that lay barely concealed behind their cold expressions. A fight just waiting to happen.

It did happen, later that night. It began in low, agitated whispers, then rose to a crescendo as those pent up feelings were finally released into the air. Lying in my bed, I couldn’t quite distinguish their words, but I could hear the outrage behind them, the hurt, the hopelessness, even the fear.

Weeks later, when my parents announced to me, in strangely calm voices, that they were separating, all I could think was, How can this be happening to me?

***

Another day in another year at another school. Another first day. I’m nervous, perhaps more than ought to be. It seems like everyone is sitting there gawking at me as I shuffle through the cafeteria, tray in hand; can just feel their stares pricking me like little needles. But I tell myself that I’m just being paranoid.

I pass by row after row of tables, searching, perhaps in vain, for some place to sit. There’s a sort of code among high school students, a set of unspoken rules that all must follow if they want to avoid conflict. That code applies especially to the cafeteria. Each group claims a territory, defends it fiercely, and anyone who invades their space places themselves in a very precarious situation. In this particular school, as I discovered on my first day, there is one cluster of students who always sit at the round table in the far corner, whispering to each other. And they don’t like company.

I guess I missed the memo.

***

She was my best friend, my sister, my most trusted confidant, all rolled into one. And then she changed, almost overnight it seemed. We used to laugh, gossip, poke fun at each other. Now, when she picks me up after school, we barely speak to one another. Sometimes we can’t even make it past “Hello.” There’s a wall between us. A Great Wall of China. And I can’t seem to find a way around it.

“How was school?” she asked me today as I slid into the passenger seat and closed the door with a loud thunk.

“Fine.” Yeah, sure it was fine. Until I got that test back. I’ve tried so hard to do well. But you don’t see that, do you? You think I’m lazy, incompetent. Don’t you?

“Homework?”

“Yeah.” Enough to keep me in my room for the rest of the evening. Away from you.

“Hey, when you finish, do you want to, you know, get out of the house and do something?”

“Big project.” A project I already finished. I just don’t want to get into another argument. Like the one we had last week when we went to see that movie. I’m tired of fighting. It hurts me. More than you’ll ever know.

“Oh.”

And that was the end of our conversation.

***

Disharmony is pervasive. Even if you’re not a political junkie, even if you’re not up-to-date on current events, if you can identify with one of the above situations…this philosophy of separation, of alienation, has become America’s new creed. It is a mindset so deeply engrained in the nation’s conscience that, instead of generating concern, it disappears into the noise in the background of everyday life. Our generation has grown up in a world in which healthy relationships are a rare commodity, in which hostility is the one unifying element of our society. We have grown up thinking, whether consciously or subconsciously, that nothing good will last, that peace is more transient than human life. Even the way we define peace has changed. What was once considered to be a full-blown fight between disagreeing parents is now merely an argument by today’s standards.

We are divided at work, at school, almost everywhere we go, between gender, race, religion, wealth. It’s not because we are compelled to do so by any act of government or law enforcement agency, but because such divisiveness has become the norm. And that is why it has gone unnoticed–it is now the accepted standard of our society. It seems ironic– paradoxical, almost–that a species so social by nature, so dependent on community, would choose to divide itself. Even our forefathers recognized unity as the most important ingredient of a successful nation. Our state motto, “United we stand, divided we fall,” was adopted in…more perfect union…

I suppose you might dismiss what I have written here as the product of an overly cynical teenage mind. And while I’ll admit my prose often leans toward the melodramatic, it is not my goal here to rant and rave about the world’s misery, but rather to make a point about the standards of today’s society. And my point is this: the attitudes we have embraced are not acceptable.

This is my philosophical crusade. If I can make one of my readers think twice, I will consider it a crusade won. I’m not trying to take on the world. That would be an impossible feat for one so young and with so little influence in this world as myself. But perhaps, by making this appeal to you, my fellow students, I can start a chain reaction of sorts. It may not go far (I am not so naïve as to expect it to), but perhaps it will create a little pocket of harmony, whether it be throughout the school, or even just among a little cluster of students, that will restore some small amount of civility to our lives.

Categories: Ideas and Opinions

Secondary Blog

September 16, 2009 Leave a comment

For those of you reading my blog (basically no one):

I have started a secondary blog entitled “At Last, the Rain” dedicated specifically to poetry. I’ve not posted much of anything yet, but I’ve got a sea of ideas sloshing around in my brain that will hopefully end up on the page sometime soon. The URL is http://icemanuele.wordpress.com if you would like to visit and give me your input.

Categories: Updates

Comitatus

September 12, 2009 Leave a comment

Our eyes were suddenly fixed on the screen. And then there was silence.

September 11th wasn’t just a tragedy for New York, or for America. The hurt, the fear, the loss–they were blind to all borders, and sweeping across them, touched hearts thousands of miles away from ground zero.

And they declared, “We are all Americans.”

***

Eight years later, I’m sitting in my fifth period precalculus class, mindlessly doodling on a blank page in my agenda amidst a storm of conversation and a wrestling match over the TV remote on the other side of the room. Someone emerges victorious, and then there’s some drama playing out on MTV, followed by a teary-eyed talk show guest, a few cheesy commercials for local furniture stores and car dealerships, an interview on Fox News (being a Democrat, I boo), breaking news on CNN, etc. Eventually, we land on The History Channel. It’s a simulation of a plane, flying silently across the smart board. And when the plane banks sharply and throws itself into the face of a skyscraper, all eyes turn to gaze upon that all-too familiar scenario. But for now, that’s all it is–a digital representation of a hypothetical event. There’s no smoke billowing out of the gaping hole; no shattered glass or bent, twisted steel trusses; no roaring engine; no leaping tongues of flame. And no screams.

And then they make it real.

The same video clips that had raced across our eyes in the third-grade pull us in as high school juniors. For a moment, we are lost in the chaos as the North Tower, once seemingly indestructible, begins to fall.

As I watch, I notice that the whole room has gone silent. The true weight of the tragedy has finally settled on our hearts. A tragedy we all have in common. The one thing none of us will ever be able to forget.

Categories: Honoring 9/11 Tags: ,

Guardian

August 29, 2009 Leave a comment

Tractor

Guardian of the gates to my heaven. There is something about the emptiness, the sound of the wind, the golden light, that makes a field such a sanctuary. It is a temple to the god of tranquility.

Categories: Photography