Life on Repeat

Repetition isn’t just a term in poetry—it is something we cling to for a modicum of balance. In writing, it is the idea of repeating for emphasis and for memory. In songwriting, repetition makes pop songs unforgettable in the most unforgiving sense (for examples, please see boy bands of the 90s, early 00s…Bye, bye, bye).

Repetition is a manipulation. We repeat, repeat, repeat. We wake up, maybe we go to work, or school, or both. We eat breakfast, lunch, dinner. On the weekends, we play for a soccer team, or we wake up each Saturday morn to the promise of cartoons and Cheerios. We’ve trained ourselves how to live through constant repetition; we’ve manipulated ourselves into a comfort zone, which is why surprises tend to, well, surprise us. It’s why people exposed to violence often tend to internally lessen its threat, why people who cheat often can keep doing so with abandon.

Repetition, in all its forms, seeks to praise and humble. Only recently, have I realized how humbling it can be.

The poem below is from my friend Anahit T. who experimented with repetition:

a poem based on a disappointing conversation

Hmm…I wonder who that could be?
There it goes again, I should check it and see.
Yeah, it’s him….Hello!
Are you back yet?
Almost. How are you?
I’m great, how was your trip?
My trip was great! Would you like to see me this weekend?
Oh..I can’t this weekend, what time will you be home? Don’t you want to come play for a bit tonight?
I can’t, I’m not feeling so well..Maybe next week?
Ah, what a shame some friends are going to come over right now anyway. Maybe if you feel better later you could come.
I wish I could, it is something that I cannot control. Maybe another day?
I guess there won’t be another day.

For more writing by Anahit, visit her at

An on-the-spot poem about repetition,
written by Alexa L.

You took a knife
and sliced my heart in two—

two pieces

two years
of repetition

living two lives
in two parts of the same city.

Pumps and Power Rangers

People are like Power Rangers. This isn’t a wild idea, I promise; in fact, it’s pretty simple. I don’t mean people are superheroes, because in that case I would have picked another metaphor. I’m talking about the ending, when the Rangers morph into that giant, super post-Voltron robot thing. It’s made of varying parts, varying personalities. So am I. So is everybody. Giant robots make up the world.

It starts with the notion that people can change. What I realized, not long ago, is that people don’t really just change. They collect new pieces, enhancements. They morph. Mighty morph, whatever, they’re different because they’ve added to themselves. Nothing’s really changed except in the additions; the base person and personality are still there floundering or twiddling thumbs.

I’ve morphed; I started clean, tainted only by death and usual familial struggles (but we’ve all been through those at some point). Then you want things. You want to be the straight-A student, the thrill-seeker, sometimes the bitch. You want to be attractive, but charming. You strive for innocence, maybe. You strive for naughty. It doesn’t matter. But you add facets to your person, new personalities you try on like shoes. It seems easy. It seems confusing. You add and add and add.

And lately, I’ve tried on shoes that didn’t fit: pumps with heels too high, flats with uncomfortable points, sandals, too loud when they slap the floor. But it’s important to acknowledge when they don’t fit. If you don’t: you lose your base, you lose your footing, you lose you.

And that’s just plain awful.

A poem from undergraduate workshop that deals with shoes:

My Mother’s High Heels
by Alexa L., written November 3, 2008 

Mother wore her high heels out to dinner,
the night I wore my sandals, so I could
feel the breeze between my toes and wonder
how my mom could feel nothing
but beginnings of blisters and nights
with Captain Morgan manning his ship, built
from broken liquor bottles and words said
in drunken malice. Clean the damn kitchen. 

I would scrub the floor while she would scrub
her blisters raw until they bled, and she
could watch the red trickle into the tub.
It hurt, but not as much as the heels would,
when lovers shoved them off her feet some nights.

The heels she wore those nights were red
like the blister-blood lipstick that stained the corners
of her mouth; it didn’t matter what shade.

What color were her clothes? I couldn’t see.
They were always on the floor beneath hills
of comforter and sheets.

The heels would watch
mother’s nakedness and wish they were
cleaning the kitchen with her daughter

in place of pirate captains and their crew,
water that was never clean enough to be
dirtied, and the horrible smell of feet.

Until one night I was left alone, my mom passed out,
one man unsatisfied. He stared me down and shook his head,
upset I didn’t look like my mother.

Note: Poem is both fictional (in case readers were concerned), and slightly depressing (which I’m aware of). But I just watched the first episode of Dexter Season 5, so it seemed mildly appropriate.

Also note: I’m feeling much better. I think I’m all bronchitised out.

How to Follow Directions…or Why I Want to Recreate a Scene from Office Space

This week, I discovered I have an adverse relationship with copy machines.

I found my rarely-worn sneakers still clean, despite the flux of black powder that hit the air like a firework. And as I wiped the ink off the counter, and then the floor, I thought about my brief absence of thought, my lack of sense to read directions and remember a task I’d done so many times before:
Shake the toner like a maraca. Place awkwardly into machine. Pull tab.

What was actually done: Shake toner as you walk down hallway. Pull tab. Watch as ink covers everything. Clean mess. Place toner awkwardly into the machine. Let machine make funny noise. Worry. Turn toner bottle until machine stops making funny noise. Tell boss of your mistake because you think she’d find it funny.

When it isn’t the toner, it’s the staples or a paper jam or the pages print askew. And it doesn’t happen to everybody. Symbolic, maybe? Perhaps. My reality? Oh, most definitely.

Made up word of the week:
multitaskinate: to do various other things whilst avoiding chores or homework or getting up from the couch

My Life As An Adult Robot

Lately, I run on automatic. I am shampoo directions: Lather. Rinse. Repeat. I am a parrot. OK, I got it. Please, can I have a cracker now? It’s twelve. I am my graphic arts ruler, transparent. Can you see through me? Can you measure my breath in picas and points? I intern. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Galley letters. Copying. Entering information. Repeat. My body walks, speaks, says “hey, what’s up?” I listen in class. 6 p.m. to 9:45 p.m. I turn my head, raise my hand, say something not witty. I’m trying too hard. I’m distracted. I almost cry behind my glasses. I give up. I’m quiet and don’t talk to anyone. This is a first.  Repeat. I work. 10 a.m. to whenever. Study. Read Eggers or Burroughs or someone from the list. Repeat. Home. Sometime around 10:30 p.m. or 5 p.m. TV. Shower. Computer. Book. Toothbrush. Bed. Repeat.
Repeat, repeat, repeat.
Lately, I run on automatic.

Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto. I love you.

A Kiss to Send Us Off

I moved to Boston from Miami. Long trip. Hours spent staring at fingernails, shoes, ceilings. I meet some people, I dine with the deaf, I gaze out windows at starless nights and trees that look like wooden witches, elongated branches that stretch toward wherever. And then I get there, to Boston. Movers delay delivery, so I sleep on an air mattress; it deflates, so then I sleep on the floor. A few days later, I unpack books, elephant figurines, sandals, and hooded sweaters. I check off my list of things I’ll need for cold and wet weather:

Boot-cut jeans
Tall boots
Cardigan (2)
Gloves (fingerless, leather and snow)
Patterned rain boots
Poofy (or down) jacket
Rain coat with a hood
Warm socks (both short and long)
Scarf, preferably wool
Snow boots
Snow hat
Sweater (hooded and zip-front)
Thermal tees
Thermies (or warm underwear)
Trench coat
Wind-resistant umbrella (added later, after two broken mini umbrellas)
Uggs (completely necessary, though unattractive)

I kept adding to the list with my black ink pen poised, a knife ready to carve into Boston one item at a time.

Weeks after moving in, a ladybug lands on my headboard. I look upon rust-colored leaves, then branches, then icicles that cling. The weather fluctuates. The rain tumbles from the sky. Then sunshine creeps over the Green Monster and onto the Common, where I lie and bathe in the 70-degree heat and smile; the world feels better somehow and I know it.

That is the best summary I can give for my first school year in Boston. I moved to Beantown in August of 2009 and have just been working, loving, procrastinating, worrying, delaying, thinking, laughing, writing, trusting, mistrusting, hating, reading, and living. Life up here has been easy and it has not been easy. Life has been complicated and strangely simple. I look forward to each new day with hesitance and delight, because every day is part of a broader effort to grow up, gain independence, and create a life; because, trust me, I’ve barely been living. I take little risk and am not proud of it.

This blog will not be my life, but will give glimpses and advice (warning: I’m not an expert) on life changes, moving from hot to cold, and just dealing with the everyday struggle of being in a new place. I will attempt to take risks, visit places I’ve never been to, converse with people I may never have wanted to know. I will share my passions, my lyrics, my poems, and favorite quotes. I realize blogs evolve, they change. But for now, I hope to give a little insight into a life of someone who, well, does not live on the edge but wants to give it the old college try.