I awoke this morning and donned my scholarly garb, typical autumn Oxfordian-wear: black stockings, a dark, take-me-seriously, just-above-the-knee-length skirt and a burnt orange sweater. And black shoes, of course – black and sexy. Well, sexy in the only way a female scholar can afford to be. Sexy in the same heavy way good poetry is sexy. It’s the kind of sexy that challenges, sharpens, and draws your intellect deeper into reality, enlivening your senses to what is true, good and beautiful. Not the kind that titillates you with frothy phrases or entertains you with mere flights of fancy. No, these are very black shoes that draw the eyes to the life of the mind. They’re not a very sexy kind of sexy.
Then makeup, naturally – a habit I picked up in Oxford and frequently break because I’m lazy and worry that my maschera will run all over my cheeks if I am moved to tears at an inopportune moment. And then, of course, someone will ask me what’s wrong and I’ll have to try to explain that tears are just part of the regular rhythms of my existence, all the while wanting everyone to stop pestering me with questions and just sit in silence with me.
It’s the curse of feeling deeply, I suppose. Self-composure can never be a priority. You can’t be free to feel and free to be in absolute control at the same time. Submission is built into the very framework of human existence; submit to yourself and you lose the power to be influenced by the world. It’s a little like leprosy. Leprosy damages your nerves and skin so that you can’t feel anymore. Your hand could be burning on an electric stove and you wouldn’t know until the stench of burning flesh wafted into your nostrils. If you’re a leper, nothing hurts much, but, then, you don’t really know what’s happening to your body. The world could do all sorts of things to you and you would never know. Autonomy is rather pricey.
I must make myself feel scholarly today. I am determined to write my personal essays for this hard-core scholarship. I’m supposed to talk about my interests and goals, both academic and otherwise. I have to figure out how to convince them in 1000 words that I’m a person of substance who wants to take life by its proverbial horns. Somehow, I have to show them that financing my graduate studies will be worth their while – that both Britain and America will be bettered by my scholarly contributions. They only want to give their money to a person who is committed to changing the world – a person who has not just dreams but also the gumption to carry things out. They want the sort of person who will set out to change the world anyway, even if they don’t give her any money.
What are my goals? What exactly do I want to with my life? When I was a little girl, I wanted to be an actress. No; that’s not quite right. I didn’t want to be an actress – I was an actress. I frequently raided our Pretend Box for costumes and put on plays with my brother and little sister. I didn’t care that my stage consisted of my living room floor and a few couches. It was what I loved to do, so I did it. I liked to sing, too, and some of my earliest memories are of my mother interrupting my boisterous singing and telling me that, while she loved to hear me sing and loved that I loved singing, filling the house with my loud song all day long was just a little trying on the nerves.
Later on, I began to write stories and poems. Much later on, in high school, I began to write essays and blog posts. Then I entered the Academy and a love of Biblical Studies conquered me. I knew that I wanted to spend the rest of my life reading, thinking, writing and teaching the subject. And at the same time, my love of acting, singing and creative writing has not diminished. I still sing at the top of my lungs at random times of the day (usually outside, though – I’ve learned to use my “indoor” voice indoors). I still like dressing up and pretending, though I usually have to wait until I’m taking care of children to indulge in such delights. I still write stories and poetry. By most appearances, I am as I always was.
I look in the mirror at my scholarly garb and I realize that I have changed. I am not a little girl anymore, though the true child in me is stronger than it has ever been. I do not trust people as readily as I once did, but the trust I have is more even-tempered and runs deeper, I think. I do not weep as freely now as in days of yore, but my tears have more substance to them. Love does not come to me as quickly as it once did, but it remains longer than it used to. I remember those days working at summer camp – the kind where you find a bosom friend and both swear that you’ll be best friends forever. Then you find out later that you really had nothing in common. And, of course, don’t forget those ten-day mission trips when you were sure you’d found the love of your life because he also wanted to be a missionary and played guitar. Oh, those guitars. I’m so glad I never dated a guitar-player. Not that there’s anything wrong with playing the guitar – but it takes more than gelled hair and a musical instrument to build a relationship.
I should probably stop writing this blog post and go write my scholarly essay. But I needed to write here first – to remember why I write. If you followed any of my writing on Facebook, you know that I’ve quit writing on Facebook. Call it my attempt to don a little take-me-seriously internet garb. Not that a blog necessarily lends itself to credibility, but it is a tad more intentional than Facebook. And I’m tired of spying on people.
I want this blog to be more than my random musings (though it will include these), but a place where I, as an artist, can share my art and invite my readers to engage the fruit of my creative labors. I plan to post a variety of writings: scholarly, creative, fiction, non-fiction, poetry. I will soon begin wading through many of my old writings and re-posting them in categories so they will be more easily accessible. I welcome constructive criticism and dialogue about my writing, both the compositional form and the ideas expressed therein. Please be an active part of my learning process. I want to challenge, sharpen and draw your intellect deeper into reality, enlivening your senses to what is true, good and beautiful – and I ask that you would do the same for me.