Tuesday, January 16, 2007

My List of 30 Inspirations -- 21-25

It's officially the last day of my 20's, and I haven't freaked out yet. I keep waiting for the inevitable emotional disaster, and it doesn't arrive. So, perhaps, I really am okay with this 30th birthday thing. One of my good friends, who is many years older than me, says that 30 is nothing to worry about, but 50 can be jarring.

I wish I could say that I love F. Scott Fitzgerald because he is a fellow Minnesota writer. But, I read The Great Gatsby in the tenth grade, when I still lived in L.A. I had been a voracious reader up to this point, but I read whatever was lying around the house. Often the books had little literary merit and I just read to devour. When I read The Great Gatsby, it was my first experience being engrossed in a literary book, not just the trash that I liked to read. When I went to college, I burned through all of his books and loved him. Funny enough, I have never explored all of the Fitzgerald haunts in St. Paul, even though they are only 15 minutes away.

22 -- My Home

When I was applying to graduate school, I was trying to explain in my entrance essay the kind of life I envisioned for myself, with a graduate degree. My boyfriend (now husband) just said, "Be honest -- you want to sit at home all day and write poetry with a kitty in your lap." It was true then and even more true now. While I can't afford to spend all of my time at home, I know it is where I feel the most centered. It's certainly the place where I can be myself, create my art, and feel loved.

23 -- Journals

Whenever I start a new creative project, I buy a new journal. Not just any journal but a Academie Sketch Diary in the 9x6 in size. Then, I take my time to decorate the cover in a way that represents the project. In fact, I know that I am ready to start the project, move on from the gestational stage, when I can see the cover of the new journal. Normally, my covers are collage or water colors, and then poor man's laminated with transparent tape. With a good project, I can fill this journal with the rough drafts of the poems. With a bad project, I only fill one or two pages. I'm excited, because I just bought a new journal on Monday. I haven't made the cover yet, but I can see it.

I first read Sylvia Plath in a very stereotypical way. I was a wayward 15 year old who fancied herself a poet and wore black every day. I read The Bell Jar and felt as if she knew what it was like for girls like us. When I went to college, I was incredibly embarrassed by this cliche interest in Plath. But then, I took a senior capstone class on poetics and prosody and we had to analyze a Plath poem, entitled "Point Shirley". I was amazed at the technical dexterity and emotional resonance of this simple poem. After that reading, I devoured whatever I could read by Plath and thought to hell with expectations.

25 -- Tori Amos

I still remember the first time I heard Tori Amos' music. I was sitting in my mom's apartment in L.A. and watching MTV, as I was wont to do for hours on end. And then came on this weird video shot on a white stage with just a woman and a piano. I instantly fell in love with her weird voice, obscure lyrics, and above all, her quiet boldness. As I have followed her career, I have been awed at the beauty and intricacy of her lyrics, even if I don't always know what they are about. As a writer, I am inspired by her ability to create such enduring and unique imagery in her work.