In Case You Forgot: Let Me Remind You.

This morning, blessed by the visit of the breeze tiptoeing its way from the yawning shoreline, along with the light percussive rhythm of my alarm clock, slowly increasing in tempo and volume, I woke up.

For the first time in days, weeks, months, I woke up. Out of my literal and spiritual slumber. I woke. I didn’t turn off my alarms until the last possible second for the first time in months. I chose to rise.

I’ve spent weeks to months of attempting to navigate through a multitude of different situations, some troubling experiences, adjusting to changes in schedule and workload, and feeling at times, scatter-brained, confused, uncertain of what course of action to take next.

Finally, and miraculously, I arrive at today. Right here, right now. This moment.

Most people who know me relatively well believe me to be an eternal optimist, someone who truly believes in the power of positive thinking.

That said, we all have times in our lives when we struggle more heavily than others, not only with meeting all of our responsibilities, but also fitting in time to do all the little things we enjoy that keep us entertained, happy and at peace with where we’re at: physically, emotionally, perhaps intellectually, and spiritually. These past few months have been one of those times for me.

When I think about who I am as a person, I often tell myself that the seeds of worry and over-thinking are innate in me. I accept that, and I’ve spent the formative years of my life recognizing it, grappling with it, and learning how to change my patterns of thinking, or rather, just to sometimes STOP thinking, and just be.  Over the course of the past few years, I was able to really embrace being mindful, allowing time to meditate and be present, making a point to drop my worry and over-thinking tendencies, whenever I started to feel slightly overwhelmed. I was in control of my life. But, naturally, we can’t always be totally cool, calm, collected and in control of every aspect of our lives.

Lately, due to a combination of personal experiences and increased responsibilities, I’ve done the opposite of what I’ve always found most helpful in times like these: I’ve allowed myself to become consumed in my barrage of non-stop thought, not allowing myself time to slow down and to just simply be. I’ve been aware of falling into this pattern for the past few weeks or so, and I started setting little goals in my mind to help get out of my head and back into living in a more centered way. One of those things included to start waking up a few hours earlier, whether it’s to plan for work, to get a work out in, to just sit and take my time waking up and drinking my coffee, and collect my thoughts and get organized before starting the day.  This morning, I did just that.

 Somehow, the chill of the morning ocean breeze, seeming to signal what Southern California calls “Fall”, shook me awake and whispered something about a fresh perspective.

Thankfully, I was awake enough to hear it. 

Today, I reaffirmed a conscious choice for my life: no matter how much I am dealing with, personally or professionally, I am going to do my very best to allow myself the time to be centered in all that I do. 

For those of you who may be struggling with similar issues, in case you’ve forgotten your way as well, I’ll leave you with this quote, that speaks to the root of this issue in the most simplified and best way I know:

“The blue sky is always there, above the clouds.”-Rumi

 

-AK

So, You Want to Conquer the World…

There’s no denying it’s always been a dream of yours, since you sat near the fire in your grandfather’s living room, spinning the globe in your tiny fingers, as he told stories of the ancients: of war, of peace, of colonization, of culture. Wide-eyed and curious, you began to yearn to venture past the places you’d been raised.

Read more

It’s been a while since I’ve set aside some time to make a post longer than a few sentences.

You could say in the past month or so I’ve had a lot going on…

I have a draft of a longer post that should be ready to publish sometime in the next 24-48 hours called “So You Want to Conquer the World…”  Stay tuned!

stay-tuned

Productive idle time

By Alyssabeth Knerr

Yesterday, while things were extremely uneventful at work,  I came up with 20-22 article titles/ideas. Feeling grateful to be blessed by the inspiration gods, because this time last week I doubt I could have even come up with three! Anxious to get down to business on some of these topics!

ding

 

Under the Influence

By: Alyssabeth Knerr

                                                            say anything   

                                                                       Poetry and Music

I know it’s been a little bit since I’ve posted on here– I’ve just been busy with school and figuring some things out. All is well!

I believe the title of this post calls for a bit more insight into who I am as an individual, as well as a writer/artist:

I have always been first and foremost a lover of music; since before I could write, before I could speak, I was singing (or at least making sounds to melodies of songs). Before I could really interpret lyrics, I was obsessing over them, memorizing them, scribbling them down on any square inch of blank space I could find. I started playing guitar at the ripe age of eight. As soon as I was old enough, I joined choir in school, fell in love with the art of voice, and all the amazing things one could do when training your voice. By the time I was nine, I was finding my own voice through writing poems, experimenting with rhyme, simile and metaphor, the first things that come to mind when one initially thinks of or learns about poetry.

As my poetry developed through middle and high school, I found inspiration in the Transcendentalists and all they embodied, being highly inspired and fascinated by nature and our connection to the earth as humans. I also developed an affinity for e.e.cummings’ poetry at the time, and delighting in his deliberately unconventional use of punctuation, spacing, and his disinterest in capitalization. To me, his style allowed the reader to really “feel” his sounds in his poems. I loved that as well as his ability to just be a bad-ass-rebel-poet for his experimental forms, approaching the previously unapproachable, and creating his own space within the genre.

Similarly, while I was becoming inspired by poets I studied in school, I was infatuated with music and trying to determine which artists I admired most, identified with most. There were sooo many. Even now, I listen to many artists across genres, from the music my parents listened to, to what my grandparents were listening to, and a myriad of contemporary artists (Anything from classic jazz, alternative, folk, indie, punk/emo, rock, metal, to old school and some current hip-hop/rap).

One band that I became enamored with around the start of high school– let’s say, 2006, was Say Anything. What most attracted me to them was their experimental nature of unique sound within their genre (punk/alternative rock/emo/), and their lyrics that instantly captivated me. To this day, there is not a single song by Say Anything that I do not love. In the past nearly 9 years, I have found myself inspired by Max Bemis (lead singer/composer of Say Anything) more than most of my favorite poets.
Why, you ask?

Well, because his lyrics are extremely poetic and have moved me from the first moment I heard them. Humbly put, he is a lyrical genius.

Currently, as a graduate student of poetry, I spend countless hours a week studying poetic craft and technique, as well as creating multiple imitations from poets each week, and attempting to “borrow” elements of style in order to learn something, and to see what I can add to those borrowed elements of my own, to create something fresh and new. Having said that, I’m sure you can imagine why it felt only natural that this morning, over coffee, while listening to Say Anything songs from all of their albums on Spotify, for probably the millionth time, it dawned on me that there were a few specific reasons that I am so inspired by Max Bemis as a writer:

Bemis is #1 A Master of Hyperbole #2 A Master of Metaphor #3 He casts a spell on his audience through allusions (They even have a song entitled ‘It’s a Metaphor, Fool’ on their Album Say Anything is/was A Real Boy– the title of the album itself is an allusion). Undoubtedly, there are many other things this band has mastered in their 8 albums, but these were the first techniques that came to my mind. I’ve always been intrigued by the various allusions to Bemis’ heritage/religion and the struggle for identity concerning that.
After reflecting on Say Anything’s lyrical content, I came to the realization that they are so much my favorite, because they are perhaps the most literary band I listen to. Lyrical Gangstas, if you will. Through the aforementioned techniques, they challenge society and flawed systems and ideals. We see this in the majority of their songs, but most obviously in songs like “Admit It” from Say Anything is a Real Boy, a song which is revisited in their 2012 album Anarchy My Dear, with the track “Admit it Again”. The band’s referencing of their previous work, seems to serve as an acknowledgement that they are still very much connected to and growing from their earlier work, continuing to build on it. Say Anything’s single “Burn A Miracle”, also from Anarchy, My Dear, is a radical reminder/call to action of this idea that in order to deconstruct the systems you find fault with, you must begin to make the changes you want to see in society.

Here is a BRIEF list of some choice literary lines that I thought about when constructing this post:

My current favorite use of hyperbole comes from the track Say Anything from their 2012 Album, Anarchy, My Dear:
“If Satan showed up with a gun, threatened “be disloyal I or I shoot”/ I’d take it in the kneecaps…/I’d throw up every morning, pull my nails out, take a wrench to all my teeth/To put a ring upon your digit, have you fidget in your bed with me/ Anything for you.” “Say Anything”. Anarchy, My Dear 2012.

There’s just something to be said about the kind of love that you’d do ANYTHING for. If taking a wrench to all his teeth ain’t enough, honey, I don’t know what is!

More hyperbole:
“If you could forgive me for being so brash, you could hit me or whip me, I’d savor each lash.” I Want to Know Your Plans. Say Anything is a Real Boy.

Another place we see this sort of hyperbole is in “Shiksa” “even if you stomp me till I’m sore, no matter what, I’ll bleed to be your whore./Even if the cancer grows till we explode, I’m yours.” Shiksa/Girlfriend. In Defense of the Genre. 2007.

Some great places of metaphor shows up:

“Spidersong”. Say Anything is a Real Boy. 2004. “I’m the spider, I’m growing legs, crawl inside her.”

                                                   metaphor

“He feeds me quotes, that lonely goat. I watch him grazing by himself /Lou is bugged and shot up with drugs./He sweats this bird he hardly knows/so like some hybrid mother/lover she’d soothe and heal his wounds.” “Yellow Cat, Red Cat”. Say Anything is a Real Boy. 2004.

The allusion here in “Alive, with the Glory of Love” to Treblinka(concentration camp)– a nod to Bemis’ personal history, as well as an expression of love you’d die for:
“Our Treblinka is alive with the glory of love!/Should they catch us and dispatch us to those separate work camps/Should they kill me, your love will fill me, as warm as the bullets (yeah)
I’ll know my purpose. This war was worth this. I won’t let you down.” Say Anything. “Alive with the Glory of Love”. Say Anything is a Real Boy. 2004.

The metaphor/allusion here to Alice in Wonderland
“My friends are just neighbors/That steal from me when I’m not home/I am so damn trusting I do not see their malice /In this blackened wonderland I am the darkened Alice/I’m the ball, they’re batters
They’re climbing social ladders” Say Anything. “All My Friends”. 2005.

Metaphor/Allusion
“You snort a line of syphilis and run the marathon/Your mentally deficient friends just ask you what you’re on/I may be shy and not reply to your scathing review/…I’d rather subsist on venom, than abstain with you/I was the kind to ask what wrong doing had injured Dahmer’s pride/Or to excuse the junkie thief with diamonds in his eyes/But now I taste a righteous fury sparkling with hate/The beat thumps loud you sweat it out and grind on them for drugs/
You hug that pole like a firefighter falling in love.” “Peace Out”. Anarchy, My Dear. 2012.

Max Bemis/Say Anything possess the fearlessness of exposing the heart, mind, soul through art, reminding us of what it means to be human. Whether an experience is painful, neurotic, laughable, or all of the above (as it often is with Say Anything), they are masters at sharing it with the world in a way that we can’t help but tune into, because of their careful dedication to their craft. This kind of art is what wakes us up and effectively, makes us. It calls on us to respond and create as well, in our own unique way. And that, my friends, is influence, to me.

LASTLY: If you haven’t seen them live yet, they are touring with another one of my favorite bands, Saves the Day. They will be in San Diego at the House of Blues on November 14th. It will blow your mind. That’s a promise.

burn

-Alyssabeth Knerr