Monologues

Monologue #17

If one has ever wondered why people do not mix, it is because we are like oil and water. Water, the majority in this world claim to be progressive and accepting, attempting to prove it with statements such as, “Oh, I’m not __, because I have a __ friend” or “How could you think that about me? I’ve been around ___ people before.” So for a short while, I begin to think that maybe, just maybe, in our current society, that people are growing, and views are changing for the better. Yet, each time, I am quickly brought back to the realization that they are not. I have been in numerous situations where I am in a room full of people who claim to be accepting, but none of them even crack their lips to say hello. So instead, I make the first move, attempting to find recognition and be invited into their conversation, but as I stand there, I gradually see their circle moving closer together until I am once again on the outside not looking in, but at their backs. Not only at Davidson, but in this world, I am, and always will be oil. I realize that no matter what i do, nor what i say will change the stigma around me. The majority is quick to say that we separate ourselves from them, when in reality, it is they who separate themselves from us. Water and oil, they can co-exist, but no matter what each one does to alter its’ identity, they will never mix.

 

Monologue #18

Shaking, I handed the scrapbook to the orphanage director: “This is my family.” As he flipped through the photos I’d compiled, I looked around, soaking in the worn cinder blocks, sagging red drapes, and chipped floor tiles; I read and reread the shining gold letters that rested across the archway. They spelled: “WELFARE INSTITUTE.” My mind raced as I glimpsed into a life that could have been mine, absorbing it all as if it were my reality. It was my first trip to China since my adoption. That April, the visit was n’ot about visiting Terracotta Warriors, trekking to hidden caves in Guilin, or hiking the Great Wall. It was an exploration of the past and a new perspective onflife’s connections and journey.

Ever since I was young, I have loved being organized, cringing when my pencils are not lined up, my notebooks are not arranged by color, and my sweatshirts are not tucked in meticulous rows. But in that Chinese orphanage, walking among the maze of metal cribs and scattered plastic chairs, it became clear: life is not as simple as a newborn’s laugh. Instead, life is composed of layers that can be peeled back to reveal the truths underneath.

At Davidson, the layers of individuals are even more apparent. We are scholars but there is no shortage of parties. We are cognizant of our peers and their sensitivities, yet we sometimes speak without a filter, causing pain.

Everyone has an exterior, but also a façade that conceals one’s true self. At first glance, people absorb my Chinese exterior — a stark contrast to my Caucasian family. Others observe the Star of David pendant. It is harder at Davidson, where no one knows my history. No one knows the struggles I encountered in elementary school, or the pain I endured during my early teens. When I admit that I know limited Chinese or that I am Jewish, people shrug and nod, but their eyes tell a different tale. Toddlers, teenagers, and adults — they all stare and wonder. Sometimes I stare back, to prove my outward strength. They question but never ask; they don’t care to learn the true story. We come into Davidson with a clean slate, but we must also be responsible for asking questions and learning about the depths of others.

Life is full of contradictions. While I am a dedicated major league baseball fan, I cannot stand playing sports. Even though crowded airports make me anxious, my goal is to place my feet on every continent and embrace each culture. I cherish every experience whether it has been learning didgeridoo from Aboriginals on a jellyfish-infested beach, feeling insignificant under masterpieces in El Prado, or being swept into the crowded streets of Hanoi. It is the strength of each place’s unique history that appeals to me — flaws and all. The bruises of life are so carefully bandaged they hide characteristics that should shine. At Davidson, we need to continue talking with others. We need to get below the surface if we hope to understand our peers.

In that dimly lit orphanage, instead of feeling lucky, I felt guilty that I’d been given a chance. Those sniffling, trembling babies — I was once one of them. Despite the emotions accompanying such awareness, I a’m not a fragile “China doll” that shatters under the slightest pressure. In fact, my inner strength has grown from my experiences; there are many different layers of my life. I cherish the moments that I spent in China and feel fortunate to have the love and support of my family at home and my community at Davidson. Sometimes, it is hard to locate myself in this greater world, or find my purpose, but I am proud to be me.

Monologue #19 (performance piece)

The first time I saw the word “asexual” was in a biology textbook.

    (Asexual reproduction. Something amoebas do.)

The second time I saw it was in an online article about an asexual woman dating a
heterosexual man.

    (Anonymous: “That guy got friend-zoned so hard he made it into the news.)

The third time I saw it, I was typing it into Google’s search bar.

    (When a boy puts his tongue in my mouth, there’s supposed to be a “spark,” isn’t there?)

The fourth time I saw it was in me, when I finally understood how to define myself.

    (Asexual. Noun. Someone who does not experience sexual attraction.)

Where I didn’t see it was in my mother’s understanding, when I told her what I had
learned.

    (“Oh honey, there’s nothing wrong with you.”)

Nor did I see it in my friend’s acceptance of me when I opened up to him.

    (“Maybe you just haven’t met the right person yet.”)

I didn’t see it in my perfectly regular hormone balance, no matter how many times they
asked me.

    (“Have you had your hormones checked?”

“Have you seen a doctor?”

    “Isn’t there a pill for that?”)

I didn’t see it in the Davidson 101 Sexuality poll either.

    (“Q” for “Questioning” since everyone tells me that’s what I must be doing.)

I don’t even see it in LGBTQIA, which is always cleaved down the middle because too
many letters—too many identities—is unpalatable to most.

    (“A stands for ally!”

      “LGBTQIA? That’s a bit too much, don’t you think?”)

    And sometimes—
    I don’t see me.
    Because being 1% of the population makes me negligible.
    Because seven hundred thousand people worldwide don’t really count.

    And when I don’t see me,
    I have to pretend I’m not me.
    Because it’s easier to pretend than it is to explain.
    And it’s easier to fake it than it is to hear someone say that I am broken—
    that I am lacking something inherently human.
    Or worse, for some stranger to tell me
    that I will never truly understand how to love another person,

      if I’m not fucking them.

Monologue #20

Amen

Bow your head.
Be thankful.
Do what they say
And to heaven,
You pray,
That’s the place to go.
But you don’t know
Where you might land.
In dirt,
Or sand?
On the beaches and fields,
See the power he wields.
Look to him.
You know its all in the hymns that we sing
And what tomorrow might bring.
But what about now,
And what about how?
And that we’re flying through space
At a million billion miles
And a zillion trillion more
Till we reach that front door
On the palace of Jesus
And Buddha
And a priestess
Muhammad
And Krishna
To find that we missed them.
Cause they were there all along,
But we couldn’t get along
With the life that they gave,
And we thought they would save us.
From what?
Maybe ourselves.
To take us off the shelves,
But maybe we never were,
And why would you ever want to be sure?
Cause I sure wouldn’t.
I would just like to live.
And I don’t know what to believe . . .
I know I believe
In the spirit and the trees
And the bright, stinging bees
And how they save the flowers.
Cause they show me what life is:

an Eternity . . .
. . . of Stillness

Imagine lying on the ground without
moving or opening your eyes and
imagine how long it would take you to
starve to death

I’d say it’d be . . . forever.
So we really do have time
To learn, and to grow.
And we won’t ever know.
But that’s not for us,
It’s for them.
And that is why I say amen.

Monologue #21

I received all my education at public institutions. I came from a middle-class home. There are times when I sense that others–particularly faculty, but sometimes students as well–sniff a little at the notion that I’m “merely” a public school “product.” Sure, I sat in a few 200-student classes—in fact, one of the first convinced me of my future profession. I also had a number of small classes—and you know something? I was able to learn in every format.

There is much that is wonderful about the Davidson bubble, but I worry when I see both students and faculty feeling, as the Church Lady on Saturday Night Live used to say, “just a little bit superior”* to those poor blokes who had to make do with public schools, bless their hearts.

And it’s weird to hear some students talking about spending huge sums–as in, more than my total salary when I started teaching–on spring break adventures and parties and the like. I ache for those of my students who have to think about going out to eat or buying texts or all those expenditures that so many seem to just take for granted. And there are times when I find myself in a curious mixture of envy and annoyance.

Moral of my story: building yourself up by putting others down, even without realizing you’re doing so, only belittles you in the process—and it blinds you to the wonderful commonalities and differences that we could explore together.

Monologue #22 (performance piece)

There is a legend in Northern New Mexico of the spirits of the desert the natives call skin-crawlers.
The emptiness of the canyon sands lends space for haunting spirits to stand and wait to create monsters of human skin; if you walk alone by the riverside at night, they say, you’ll hear the woman who screams in grief for having lost her children, in a drowning, the sound haunts the hallow mountains in harmony with coyotes crying out beneath the full moon and all you can do is pray to never be found by their hungering bodies.
Late one night, as we spoke tales of the supernatural by the waters of Lake Abiquiu, a seventeen year old boy named Matthew told me of the times his grandparents, his parents, and he himself heard the jarring screams of the skin-crawlings late in the season down by the stream. That night, I had a dream that the spirits hovered over the waters of the deep in our souls, lost spirits longing for a place to come home, like stories wanting words to be told. As the sun rose I prayed that the clouds would lift and everything would be okay.

My father loves to tell ghost stories. Ever since I was young, he told me of his parties in Gettysburg in his fraternity house, the times when the soldiers returned in their war uniforms to make the doors slam and the wooden steps creak. I can’t tell you how much he believes thanks to the gin and whiskey. But I do know that all I have to do is walk by SAE, my father’s alma mater, and I smell childhood memories of Budweiser; it doesn’t matter that he was a happy drunk. I avoided drowning by finding adventures with books in my room. I played emotional hide and seek, hiding from a couch reeking of beer, and seeking escape from a mongering fear that I would be abandoned. As a child, alcohol was a demon of falling out of my father’s arms and now, its ghosts are haunting me with Saturday night court parties, bed sheets twisting me awake in my sleep.

Last Friday night, I saw skin crawlers for the first time. They wore sheets of white, flooding down the crowded streets, the moonlight casting shadows upon brick buildings towering over the ghostly fleet. Craving midnight heat, they paraded through the court in hoards of young, fresh bate awaiting the spirits to take them away. Their eyes were glazed over in a hungry gaze for skin, a desire crawling up their legs as they became mindless and wasted – hastened for some connection to cure the infection looming in their minds of deadlines and the bell ringing at 8:30 on Monday morning. The sirens and the ambulance cast red shadows on the black streets until everything started to bleed together, the music blaring and the shots and the screams and the war scene that is men on a stage with paint guns. I can’t tell you what it’s like to be royally courted at this type of party, the drinking culture isn’t my scene not because I’m too pious; in fact, I’d give anything to be able to try it but I can’t. my body won’t frolick in the way others do; my liver is haunted by generations of alcoholics.

I can’t run from this any longer, the sea of togaed bodies hoping to escape. I feel ashamed to be witnessing the collective intelligence of the human race being drunk away, the eyes that I knew and trusted during the day now parading a mask of Dr. Jekyll over the pain that they face. I feel anguished, an anthropologist witnessing an ancient mating ritual of gyrating bodies on tables and floors, hallowed alcohol-bearing flesh making me crave something more. The soft animal of the human being is easily devoured by the power of addiction, the self-medication of seeking salvation through some intoxicating love, a thrust into another’s arms that never feels like enough. It’s painfully lonely to be sober, to sit with the trees and listen to the echoing screams, to taste heartache amidst hundreds of bodies trying to put their feelings to sleep, to leave feeling haunted by lost intimacy.

All I want is know the dignity of my own two lips, to share a hammock when we’re not tipsy, to rock gently to sleep to the sound of the crickets and our hearts beating and know that this is real, you’re not a skin crawler, you’re not my father, you are a heart of beating flesh and wounds longing to be held. you have found my heart, longing for its wandering spirit to come home, to have its story be told in poems written across the skin. and as the sun rises over the lake, we will know that everything is okay, we will wake sobered by that drink that strips us bare – we will remember the sweet moments of surrender, drinking that invisible love that we share.

Monologue #23

When I came to college they gave me a packet of maps.
Don’t walk on the grass, stay on the brick paths, the signs read
and as I walked up the marble steps I stared
at this illogically numbered set of boxes named Chambers – wandered my way
through this set of days they called orientation: a whirlwind of five hundred names and get-to-know-no-one games – and I didn’t know a way to stop my head from spinning

so I walked with the parade of people crouched over their cell phones,
stayed on the brick paths, never let my feet go naked in the grass – I took all the good classes,
worked to get the top grades, went to office hours and highlighted all my pages,
went to the gym once a day and never dared to wander astray down that hill – I filled my schedule to the brim with scheduled social activities then

one day, in mid-November when the sky bled a dull grey monotony, I realized I was – unhappy. I dreaded the tyrant alarm clock of the class bells ringing, wanted to break out of chamber’s white prison walls,
I wanted to mourn the loss of my childhood when books replaced connection, grades replaced affection,
my heart wandering without a sense of purpose or direction –

When I came to college they gave me a packet of maps. They said stay on the path, take your place in the top class of society’s machine: point north toward the six figure salary, raise your well-dressed children within the white picket fences so they do not wander astray, and all the problems will go away – if only you take this little white pill and invest enough in your retirement funds, bracket fun for the weekends and work seventy hours in your week to make enough money to escape to some exotic destination on vacation, take up your white American burden to drive the economy forward with your Christmas purchases – forget that Jesus says blessed are the poor, keep buying in, don’t question the other doors – you are born out of privilege to keep the plastic holy and just do what makes you happy – for a moment

Well hell if I know what makes me happy – if a four year liberal arts college with unlimited free Tenders and blaring music on the weekends can’t keep me satiated, maybe I’m one of those helpless cases that just isn’t meant to graduate,
maybe I’ll be one of those Asheville-out-in-the-mountains hippies that lost their maps years ago, those rebels who never gave their souls to check the IRS boxes

When I came to college, they gave me a packet of maps, but I don’t need them anymore –
I’m done trying to silently triangulate between society, my parents voices’, and my own –
because I am not a lone peg in the cog of higher education’s machine –

I am a human being
who has been gifted with the opportunity to live and breathe for the Earth’s wellbeing,
I am a wonderer who dares to envision the homeless taking their place next to those with PhDs, I am a seeker of the ocean’s visions being breathed into whale’s dreams,

I am a poet whose words will not apologize when I wander astray, for I am here to say
listen carefully: this is the story of one woman’s liberation, whose map will be her wisdom, whose compass will be compassion, and whose voice lies in the resurrection of the soft whisperings of her heart – telling her to let her feet breathe naked in the grass –
yes, she is free, and love will be her path.

Monologue #24

Thunk. Thunk. Thunk.
There it goes again
Repeating nonstop
Forever present, ringing
Forever independent

Thunk. Thunk. Thunk.
Why does it persist?
This torturous beat
What awful crime have I done?
What sin warrants agony?

Thunk. Thunk. Thunk.
Never ending pain
Trapped, immobile, set
Now a broken music box
Now permanently placed, shelved

Thunk. Thunk. Thunk.
Wires of life inflamed
Creaky, tired gears
Twined mirrors, dim, blacked out, dark,
Twined scars laid bare, my plea clear

Thunk. Thunk. Thunk.
Stroke down in my prime
Not by bullet, car
Or one too many straight
But misery unyielding

Thunk. Thunk. Thunk.
Yet it continues
Sustained by hope, love
Family, well-wishers, and more
All come, expectations in tow

Monologue #25

I was reading a story about a black man living in the Jim Crow era who was able to get away with sitting in the “whites only” section of a train because of one dominating factor: he was rich.

So….because you have money, society rewards you with privileged etiquette. So…because more people know you, society rewards you with special benefits.

So…what about the black elderly woman who lived through slavery and through Jim Crow?
And…how about the young white boy who doesn’t understand why his black friend is in the back, but all his parents explain to him is “that’s the way things are.”
Oh, and what about the southern black man who is economically disadvantaged because his only option is sharecropping?

Fast forward these concepts, and compare them to today. Are some people in our society today economically advantaged because of their family history within the past 100 years? Do we privilege those simply because they have more money? Is this world designed and driven by money, or something else? Is the person who is middle-class any better than those that live with the minimum basics?

I don’t think so.
Some may think that this second person is poor…yes, they are poor financially, but are they poor spiritually? This middle-class person is rich, but what are they lacking?
I think our society is burdened by how money has shaped our lives and interactions. I think I can talk to someone of low-class and upper-class, and still learn so much from each. I don’t think that lower-class people are suffering; I think they know how to live simply and with the basics. I think upper-class people have a lot of power to make things happen, but don’t know why they do it sometimes.
There is too separate of a division between classes, but money should not be determinant of our worth.

Try having a personality, it’s worth something.

Monologue #26 (performance piece)

I’m not any different than a bunch of girls on this campus. I live in a world of comparisons. Contrasts. I can’t look at someone else without feeling like I can’t do what they do, and that I should. I look at their bodies and either try to use them to make me feel, just for a minute, please God just for a minute, good about my own, or I am abused by them and knocked down a peg further into the hole of self-doubt.

We all have demons, I realize.

I am messed up and perfect in a strange way.

I am recovering.

Food isn’t dangerous anymore.

Most of the time.

There are times when I look at what I’m eating and I can’t breathe for a moment and if it’s not what I planned or what I expected if it’s more than others are eatingifitsascaryfoodifitsabadfoodifiitistoomuchfoodisitnotenoughamihungryimnothungryitdoesn’tmatteryoushouldeatbutdon’tstartanewbadhabitbutfoodshouldn’tbescarysoishouldusteat

Right?

Right.

Wrong.

Right.

Day by day, meal by meal, minute by minute my answers change. Sometimes the anxiety builds to a point but now I’m on meds and they’re helping. And my friends. They help a lot. And sometimes not. Sometimes I’m still alone. I feel guilty crying a lot, but my emotions can’t be dealt with by starving myself, by running obsessively anymore, so I deal with them by crying. And sometimes still by eating too much. Or not eating enough. Or drowning myself in aspartame. Or chewing gum. Or doing more homework.

More homework.

The people you see working. Constantly, diligently. Maybe they’re not working to get it done, maybe they don’t have it under control and are so ahead of the game, maybe homework is a distraction, a way to finish something, or start something, maybe their work is their vice. A dangerous one that feeds the voice in their heads saying you’re not doing enough.

Enough.

Everyone else is doing enough. And look, you wreck of determination to your detriment, look at them. They can handle it without breakdowns, they can handle it all without clutching at his fleece, barely able to stand, without shaking, without holding theirheadbetweentheirhandsandhearingITcomedownfeelingITsweightandITSclench
Around
Your
Gut

They can get through it.
And their gut doesn’t betray them in all of the ways like it does you.
It doesn’t lie to them.
Tell them they’re hungry when they’re full, tell them they’re full when they’re starving, tell them they should listen to IT and do more, always more.
They can listen to themselves and I not only cannot do that, but have lost my voice.

But.

It comes back.
A little bit.

I remember memories
Scenes
Thoughts
Varied little vignettes from before here.

I make up preemptive memories in my mind for after here.

Or for after right now.

I look again at the girl who passes by my table.
I check again the food I lift to my mouth.
I glance at my to-do list.
I listen.
To the murmur of the people around me and hear, suddenly, hints of what I am feeling. And I want to yell.
To shout.

Or maybe to whisper, because that is less threatening and anxiety producing.

We are all of us struggling somewhere. This image of perfection, never dereliction. This projection of calm in the middle of the storm.
It is a lie.
We are all of us struggling somewhere but here that’s not okay.
Oh sure, sometimes it’s ok.
When you have a lot of work. A hard review, a long practice, the list of minor complaints goes on. But it’s a fake list for a facsimile of a conversation. For who wants to share their problems, divulge their demons to someone who seems to be free?

I do.
Because none of us are free.
I’ll talk about it.
My anxiety.
Deep seeded fears that have rooted themselves in my very being of inadequacy, of not doing enough for doing’s sake.
How food scares and pulls me.
I will talk about it.
I am not an other here.
You aren’t either.

It’s my time now, it might have already been your time, or maybe your time will be tomorrow, or maybe it’s today, with me.
We are all of us struggling.
So we, none of us, should have any qualms about showing this.

Perfection is unattainable.
Let the depiction, the veneer down, to see truth.
The truth of an experience is far better, so much more approachable, and so much more livable.
Sustainable.
And I want to sustain.