She radiates fire and demands justice be served to those who have so wronged others.
Flying faster and harder than had been known for her species before, the bird pushes through the sky.
She dodges buildings and trees and airplanes as they seem to leap into her path.
Still faster and faster she flies.
Into the darkness.
She knows that she can fly harder, so she does. And she’s carrying extra burdens, extra weight to carry with her. Sticks for her nest, food for later.
Still she flies. Pushing through the sky.
She knows that if she burns herself out, it’s fine.
She’s a Phoenix. She will always rise from her ashes.
So she continues to fly and fly and fly.
But something changes.
She loses her grip on the burdens. Sticks start to slip from her grasp.
A predator swoops in, steals her food, and is gone before she’s registered what’s happened.
She’s left with nothing but herself.
Still she pushes on.
Through the sky.
You see, she’s set herself up to compete with birds of other species. Smaller ones, faster ones. Ones who can travel at that rate.
A rate at which she was not meant to travel.
The birds of other species love the Phoenix, but they don’t understand her need to keep up with them.
For she is a fine bird. But the Phoenix does not see it so.
So she competes.
Until it’s too much.
She starts to burn, but she doesn’t fear. She knows she will rise again from her ashes.
So she embraces the warmth.
Until it’s gone.
It’s just her mind.
Puzzled, the other birds gather ’round the ashes, waiting.
Although a different kind of bird, she was unique.
Setting her standards high and her expectations higher proved to be her downfall.
Tentatively, the other birds approach the ashes.
There, they spot it. The tiniest baby bird, unlike that of a Phoenix.
It’s still the Phoenix, but the others don’t know it just yet.
She’s taken on a new form.
She’s smaller and lighter, but she cannot carry the loads of her past self.
She must only carry herself.
Whether she will grow into a better bird is yet to be seen.
But, she must start from scratch.
And though she does not yet realize it, she has a whole group of other birds who will show her the way.
As she rises again, yet not the same.
This is a first draft.
What does it mean to relocate?
We can relocate our lives. We can take new jobs and move to a new city, state, or country. We can move within our own city and feel as though we’re relocating.
I’ve recently moved from a townhome into an apartment in the city, and I feel like I’ve moved halfway across the country.
We can even relocate our relationships, in a way. We can change our focus, we can move away from relationships that are causing us harm. We can move toward relationships that provide value for our lives.
I’ve had quite a few people relocate in my life, some people who are very close to me. Some relocations by choice, others by necessity.
Personally, I love moving. I always reach for a chance for a fresh start. I love being able to start over and say, “let’s go.”
I kind of see “relocate” as “restart” or “refresh.”
This can happen at any time, even in the middle of a day.
You can physically move, you can move your thinking, you can move your focus in your life.
You can relocate.
Ten feet away, an idol stands at a microphone in front of her.
The idol announces that her turn is up in 3, and she isn’t sure
whether she’s ready.
She’s never been one to be so real
in front of strangers, and she doesn’t want to steal
the spotlight from people
whose stories matter more than hers.
Not that she thinks she’s any good.
It’s the opposite. She supposes she could
decide to leave or withdraw, but she sticks it out.
She practically blacks out during the next two sets,
but she tries to focus.
The man before her is powerful
with a message that empowers.
Will her message empower?
But it’s her turn.
The idol returns and announces that she’s up.
Is that really her name? It sounds unnatural, and she wants to throw up.
But she stands up
and faces the open mic.
I did my very first open mic the other night. I read Stubborn and Enough. I think it went well, but it was terrifying. Thanks to everyone who supported me that night, and special thanks to Kristine for taking me.
A lone bag slouches on a shelf.
Filled with books, all ready for tiny hands.
A lone being approaches the bag, smiling.
It lifts the bag and brings it to a cart.
It’s filled with other, bigger bags.
A day passes.
The bags wait.
The being returns and moves the cart to a vehicle
Where it loads the bags and cart.
The vehicle moves for what seems like ages.
The being is back, and it lifts the bag and carries it into a house.
After some time, the tiny hands appear.
Two, four, six, eight, ten, twelve, too many to count.
They empty the bag.
Waiting to be refilled, it sits on the floor, satisfied that it has brought the books to the tiny hands.
A month passes.
The being returns.
The bag is refilled,
Reset in the vehicle,
Cleaned, and set on the shelf
Where it will wait for the next being who will transport it to new sets of tiny hands.
Out there in the interwebs somewhere exists a person with the name Joe Nutt.
Mr. Nutt has published an article that I will not link to here, as to not give his ridiculous idea more attention by way of web traffic. This article argues that Young Adult fiction is a dangerous fantasy.
Now, I do not read YA fiction regularly. I have read it in the past, and I have enjoyed what I’ve read in the past.
I am not an avid YA reader, nor can I name the top YA novels out today.
However, I am against people criticizing anyone for reading anything, .
All reading (even reading his article) is, by nature, reading. And reading is good.
No matter whether that takes the form of a graphic novel, comic strip, back of a cereal box, Shakespearean play, or YA novel.
In the paragraphs below, I will examine some of the points Mr. Nutt makes and attempt to counter them.
Be ready. This article is much more… blunt… than my typical works.
His first paragraph is probably the worst paragraph I’ve read in quite awhile, and that includes the many outrageous things Mr. Trump says.
What he describes is his idea for a YA novel, and it implies that being a transgender school dropout with autism and being a self-harmer is a bad thing. Excuse me. I’m sorry that people are transgender. I’m sorry they have autism. I’m sorry they drop out. I’m sorry they self harm.
Actually, no I’m not.
Because there are people who are transgender. There are people who are on the autism spectrum. There are people who self harm. There are people who have dropped out.
We need books that relate to their readers.
I’m sorry that your classic novels don’t relate to their readers. Not everything can relate. And that’s okay. Not everything has to relate. However, when the goal is to get people reading, having stories that they can relate to is a good thing.
Additionally, having stories with diverse characters and situations is good for everyone who reads them, even people who can’t directly relate. Because empathy is important, and spending time in a story with someone who is experiencing those things can teach us about their situation and open our minds to things we never would have seen otherwise.
As a side note, I don’t believe that embarking “on a magical quest to find an ancient crystal with the power to render all weapons useless” really is a plot line that you would find in a YA novel, anyway. That would fit better in other genres. But I digress.
Next, Mr. Nutt describes his life as a teacher of English. He describes his painstaking efforts to create “genuinely literate adults” as if “literate adults” are somehow not genuine.
Do tell me what the difference is.
Let’s take a look at what our dear friend, the dictionary, has to say on being literate:
Do you see anywhere in there where it says that a literate person has to be genuine or only read a specific type of writing? I don’t.
I see that they need to have the ability to read and write. I also see that they can be versed in literature and/or creative writing. Now, before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s take a look at the definition of “literature” as well.
Hmmm. Mr. Nutt appears to be implying that YA novels are not “considered to be very good” or that they might “have lasting importance.” Now, we wouldn’t want to attempt to assume that we know what will be deemed as “very good” and important to future generations, would we?
If we look at the second and third points, we see a much broader definition of literature. Now, unless you can prove to me that a YA novel is not a book, I believe YA fits into this definition.
Next, he states that teenagers don’t like books that proselytize. No, they probably don’t. Then, he insinuates that YA novels are attempting to proselytize teenagers to something he doesn’t clearly define.
He argues that YA is “nothing more than gossip fodder” and is like reading a novelized form of a gossip/celebrity magazine.
I don’t believe so, but even if they were.
People are reading. People are empathizing. People are learning.
Does it matter what form that it takes?
Next he goes on to describe that school libraries (in the UK) are emptying their shelves of nonfiction.
I can’t speak to situations in the UK, but in learning about the state of school libraries at my university here in the US, I see that budgets are being cut. When budgets are cut, libraries take a hit. Nonfiction isn’t always cheap.
Personally, I love nonfiction, and I love reading it. I see the importance of allowing our youth to read nonfiction. I will take the stance of one who encourages people to read nonfiction… just like Mr. Nutt should encourage people to read novels he deems appropriate.
However, neither of us should criticize anyone for reading what they enjoy reading. That’s not our jobs. Our job is to encourage reading in all forms and to allow them the chance to branch out. If they do, great. If they don’t, great.
After that, he goes on a tangent about how we as a society should look at how we’ve starved these poor children from a proper “literary inheritance.”
He says, “There is a world of difference between being able to decode symbols on a page and engaging with the thoughts and ideas of intelligent men and women who have important things to say, things which may even make that adult life, still some years off, a richer and a happier experience.”
It appears, again, that Mr. Nutt has placed judgement on something he shouldn’t be judging.
Are YA authors not intelligent? Do they not have important things to say? Can their novels not make adult life a richer and happier experience?
He then poses several questions to publishers.
Are YA novels culturally valid and something we should value? Do they introduce teenagers to the adult world?
He then goes on to judge publishers for patronizing teenagers and turning them off to reading “with books they think are good for them, instead of helping them seek out and enjoy books that matter.”
Tell me this is satire.
Mr. Nutt is doing the same thing he accuses them of doing. He believes he knows what is best for young readers, and YA isn’t it.
He believes he knows what books matter and what books don’t matter.
That is not okay.
I’m sorry that you can’t see the value in YA, but don’t try and shut off an entire group of books from people who enjoy them because you don’t believe they matter.
Lastly, YA is often read by adults more than teenagers, so everything he’s arguing is nearly invalid anyway.
Thanks for sticking through that with me!
“Literate.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 22 Aug. 2016. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/literate
“Literature.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 22 Aug. 2016. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/literature
Youth is a strange topic for me.
I am currently considered to be young, youthful, a “youth.” However, I’m also not young enough anymore.
The other day, I was out with a friend and I realized that the store “Forever 21” no longer applies to me.
For years, as a college student who was much younger than her peers, I struggled with being too young. I waited years in agony, wishing I was eighteen. Then, once I’d turned eighteen, the wait to turn twenty-one was agonizing.
My husband is almost four years older than me, but we match each other intellectually. When he got a job at a 21+ restaurant, I couldn’t go and support him by eating there.
Sometimes friends would forget my age, and they would invite me out places that I wasn’t able to get into. I would appreciate the invites, but it was always awkward having to remind them I’m so young.
Recently, I was out at that same restaurant when a friend came in with a group. As their group was leaving, we caught up while walking back to my car. He remarked that he frequently forgot how young I was. He’s about seven years older than me.
To counter that, I often forget how “old” he is.
In other areas of my life, I am often the youngest person around. Square dancing has very few members in our area who are under the age of forty. Clogging has more younger members, but we’re still a minority.
In my sorority’s local alumnae chapter, I am one of a few young women who participate.
My hobbies and interests draw me to older folk. Even my profession is full of people who are typically more than ten years my senior.
While working at my university recently, I realized that most of the people there are now younger than me. For years, they were all older than me, and I saw them as way more smart and capable.
Now (for the most part), I see them as younger than me and find myself trying to take on a mentor role for them.
All of that considered, I can’t seem to find my “home.” People my age don’t often have the same interests that I do, but people who are older but who have the same interests seem to not want to include me because I’m so young and inexperienced compared to them.
I have a few close friends (who are close to my age) who I see typically once a week on non-busy weeks. Other than that, I don’t have a “squad.”
I suppose I will be stuck in this stage until my peers catch up to me in interests. I will forever be the awkward, weird one with strange hobbies, but I suppose I will be the master of those by the time the rest catch up 😉