1,000 miles: step 80

2017 is here, 2017 is here. I have welcomed it with reading, pleasure reading. It’s amazing how much poetry and fiction I can take when I’m not writing weekly papers or poems. I will not think about politics right now, will not mourn over the possible setbacks of a Trump term for the immigrant student, for the woman, for the lover.

2017 is a reading year. This spring semester, I’m reading twelve poetry books for one class alone. I plan on reading more Spanish poetry, now that I have an adequate appreciation of the Spanish poetry tradition.

I also want 2017 to be the year I place my foot in the publishing world’s door. In 2016, I started submitting my work to online literary magazines and journals. There were rejections–actually, the rejections are still coming in. There were minor successes, enough to keep going. The literary world must know my name, my story.

With the goal of sharing stories with a greater audience, I can now be found on Instagram, @claudiapoet. While the poetry on Instagram is not always refined, it’s giving poetry a home in this social age. Another place to share with the world the preoccupations of my poet heart.

Onward, 2017.

Panoramic view of Georgetown

Panoramic view of Georgetown

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1,000 miles: step 58|Speak Spanish?

Exchange

“You have a call,” the librarian tells me. I raise my eyebrow, confused. At the other end a woman’s voice thanks me for sharing my computer “knowledge,”and the conversation is over too soon.

I place back the desk phone and rush over to once again meet a woman I’ve never seen before. My new student comes to me, small and eager. I can tell by the look on her face that she is wondering about something. I decide that my answer will be yes as asks: “Do you speak Spanish?” I grin, “Sí, yo hablo español.”

She is glad. She speaks quickly, telling me it’s been 10 years since she heard from her sister, and I nod, trying to piece together what she’s expecting from me. She doesn’t have her phone number, or her address, yet alone an e-mail address. She has a paper and pencil and writes several names. At the very top, her sister’s full name and her children’s names. She is hoping that el internet, the internet, has some record of them.

Social media might have, I tell her. We navigate with search buttons.

We go down through the list, failing to find matches and I apologize when a name is similar, but is from México, Argentina, Colombia, Perú… instead of Bolivia. I tell her that names on social media can change, and women’s last names change too. We even come across the profile of a young woman with public photos of what seems like her recent marriage–she’s wearing a white wedding dress, she smiles, her head at an angle, in the arms of the groom.

It delights me when we later come across the best hope of reaching her sister, a possible niece, a teen girl who lives in Bolivia. I remind her that this may or may not be her sister’s daughter, that that shouldn’t deter her, sometime, she’ll catch onto the internet on her own.

Admitting that she can’t type, she writes her message on paper and pencil for me. She watches me type. It’s not the first time my skinny, long fingers, with their steady tapping,  have been so closely watched.

I hit Send. Our lesson is soon over.

#Confessions: I’m back on the twitter

My not-so-secret return to the twitter world. And the why’s behind it. A social media story.

2008   I started using Facebook and Twitter sometime in 2008. When my parents’ separated, mum and I moved to Maryland. Social media became a valuable tool. It allowed me to hold onto all the people I was leaving behind, if only virtually.

I was leaving behind the people I had grown up with, the people I would’ve graduated high school with. I was grateful for the social media medium. As I would move once more, six months later, the friends accumulated. When we “settled” in Washington, DC, something began to happen. Something inside of me had waken up, and it was the urge to scold people for posting the things they did.
I’ve learned that my personality is that of a kindergarten professor—something my biology peers pointed out this semester after comments like this:

Claudia before a test: “Hey, use your inside voice…. your inside-your-head voice then.”

Claudia during lab: “Alright everyone, let’s take a field trip to that table over there. Everyone huddle around. What do we see?”

Indeed, I may have the intellect of a scholar, but the mind of a child who thinks stealing crayons is a crime, and saying the “stupid” word will… take off gold stars from the good-kid chart.

So, yeah, I was offended at finding out my gal (and a few guy) friends didn’t respect themselves enough to keep clothed on a Facebook picture. I was confounded at how a young woman would think that posting in-the-moment kisses with her “boo” was classy—and no, it’s not like they were all taking wedding pictures! And yeah, I was offended to find the dirty thoughts people were spilling over my tidy Twitter timeline, and that my sweet friends, weren’t so sweet either. Obviously, I’ve never befriended actual angels, but you would think people would be bright enough to recognize that not everyone is willingly to hear your evil plots, or put up with the potty mouth you randomly developed.

mid-2011   Rather than complaining about how people were losing sight of themselves (and reality), I started to un-follow and un-friend. It was an awful, painful spree. At some point, I realized that at the rate I was going, I would have nothing to read from my timelines. And the social media peeves were growing.

I couldn’t take all the disclosure going on around me. Perhaps it stems from the fact that I’m an introvert. I’m stingy with what I reveal about myself. I act this way because if something has to be said, it will come in its due time—not a #confessions trend. I don’t believe that the majority of people nagging about privacy understand the concept of self-disclosure. If you respect your private life, you would be wise to leave it off the Internet. The mind works in silence because the world is already booming with noise. Our ability to keep to ourselves is a divine gift. Why would you want to blast in full volume the only space you have that’s all yours to claim?

Don’t get me wrong, I love venting as much as the next crazie, and it helps to know we’re not alone in our thoughts. Nevertheless, there’s a problem when you don’t know how to keep your mouth shut for your own  convenience, or when to keep your iPhone pictures to your self. I also don’t think it would kill you all to use some proper punctuation and spelling.

And so, Claudia turned her back on social media (except you WordPress, you’re a wonderful exception). Already living in Virginia again, things seemed to be falling into place. She packed her bags and started her first year of college without the twitter and the facebook. And she was free, I tell you.

December 2012   This semester I took a student college success course (required at my current college), and my professor put a heavy emphasis on our resumes. After several tweaks, it hit me that my resume wasn’t accurate… anymore.

I couldn’t say I was internet savvy when I was safely away from missing out on social media. By this point, I had also relocated myself in the WordPress world, starting this blog. It occurred to me that a blog would benefit from a connection to social media (I know! Where would I get such a crazy idea?).

And it was then I took a leap of faith. I decided to go with Twitter, where I was less likely to come across self-disclosure disappointments. Or rather, where I could start from scratch and wisely choose who to follow. I don’t typically stalk people in real life, so how do you choose whose tweeting to tag along to? A certain post, Reading the Unexpected, provided me some insight. Following individuals is a point which sounds obvious, but people don’t do it enough, or they do it wrong.

I’ve come to the conclusion: Even when you follow people with similar interests, you will come across posts that you wouldn’t have read otherwise. The same thing happens with people. You come across people you automatically like, and then realize s/he is not so perfect. This is no reason to run away. You embrace physical diversity. You embrace mental diversity.

Even so, it helps if you follow a couple of intellectuals, whether goofs or scholars, knowing that you have a say in what pops up in your timeline.