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When I talk about my high school experience, I usually start by saying, “I was the homecoming queen.” But those who know me now don’t get the inside joke – that I was the anti-queen at the dance, dressed in a black gown with a beaded Cleopatra style silver wig on top of my hair.
When they handed me my crown, at the homecoming football game, I was dressed like a man in a suit with a drawn-on mustache and goatee. I kept my hand closed when I waved like a hard-plastic Barbie doll that couldn’t separate her fingers from her hoof of a hand. In my memory, cheerleaders booed. I was proud of myself despite the school guidance counselor who begged me to reconsider how I walked onto that field, swearing I’d regret it years later.
I don’t talk much about the rest of high school.
An invitation to the reunion
I finally felt included, a few months before my 20-year high school reunion, when I was invited to the Facebook group. I joked about feeling old, but it felt good to have been found and remembered.
I knew I wouldn’t be able to attend the event, taking place Sept. 24, 2016, but I wasn’t yet sure if I even wanted to go. The names of the people populating the private group rang some bells, but many brought back bad memories.
Most of my memories from school after first grade are bad. I don’t say this to hurt or blame anyone now, but to share my experience.
Some former classmates have shared their photos and memories recently, so I started thinking about the things I recall. Having started public school in second grade, I had some catching up to do. I didn’t know the cohort I’d be with.
But enough about me
What do I remember about these people now celebrating 20 years post high school?
I remember feeling floored when a fellow elementary school friend joined in with others making fun of me. I don’t remember and it didn’t matter why the kids were being cruel. Kids are cruel. When I asked the former friend whom I won’t name why she said such nasty things and “I thought you were my friend,” she said without missing a beat, “I guess you thought wrong.”
“I. Guess. You. Thought. Wrong.”
Maybe it only stung so much because I was young, naïve, inexperienced and too damn sensitive. Sure, we were kids and I’ve learned to brush off the comments I heard during childhood. But the interactions I had shaped who I am and who I became through high school.
Evil, little bitch
One afternoon on the blacktop outside Littleton Elementary School, all I wanted was to get on my bike and get home. Some stupid, faceless-in-my-memory, kids called me ugly. I was fine following my mother’s advice and ignoring them. Until a popular girl called out, “Hey Ellen, I think you’re pretty.”
My life brightened for a split second as I turned, honestly thinking in a fraction of a moment that someone was sticking up for me.
“Pretty ugly,” she finished.
To say it burned is an understatement. I graduated high school twenty years ago, but this moment from when I was no older than maybe 10 still stings. I feel that pain in my stomach. Tears well up in my eyes. And I’m grown. I’m a big girl with a family of my own.
I pedaled my two-wheeler the way some people drive cars in a rage, with no concern for the people or elements in my way. Later, when I met that nasty little girl’s mother, I remember vividly saying, “Oh that’s your daughter? I’m sorry.”
And I meant it. The mom made a face like I was an evil, little bitch. Maybe I was projecting. I felt sick letting that anger and negativity have a stage.
Just too sensitive
Perhaps my elementary school soul was just too sensitive.
I know I stumbled over the line between self-loathing and lashing out when I ended up in the principal’s office after lunch one day in third grade. I fashioned the aluminum foil from my sandwich into a ball and tried to scotch tape a thumbtack to it.
I must have threatened to throw it at those teasing me. I remember this in the context of hearing Pearl Jam’s “Jeremy” years later. But in the moment I felt even more ashamed of my weapon’s design. Who would I have hurt with my ball?
The principal punished me by making me sit at a desk in the hall for lunch until the end of the year. I felt relief. Finally, they’d just leave me alone.
My mom swore to me things would be different when I got to Brooklawn Middle School in sixth grade. I’d have more people to befriend from different elementary schools. Things would improve, she promised.
I battled daily with trying to balance my desperate desire to be liked with my genuine interests. I didn’t know who I was yet. I had neither hobbies to speak of nor passions to pursue. Other than reading and writing, there was little I wanted to do.
The cool kids
Praying to be invited to the cool kid get-togethers while trying to choose the best outfits, I thought making friends was like breaking a code or learning a language. I’ve blocked out a lot of the middle school interactions that sent me home in tears, begging to be put in a different school.
I went to Newark Academy from eighth through tenth grade, and then returned to graduate from the public Parsippany Hills High School, home of the Vikings.
In writing my open letter to the graduating class of 1996, I’m giving a name to my early experiences. Confronting the pain. Standing up for myself. I’m not blaming anyone because, after all, we were fucking kids.
Most of the kids I would have called friends those last two years of high school were the junkies, freaks and losers; the true high school dropouts of whom many are now dead. I’ve made my peace and forgiven much more than I’ve forgotten.
A ‘gothic hippy’
By the time I returned to my public school cohort, this “Class of ’96,” I decided who I was. I was a misanthrope, a “gothic hippy” in flowing pattern skirts and black lipstick. I was far more interested in studying people than having them know the real me.
I sunk deeper into reading books and writing poetry.
In not wanting friends and choosing instead to stay to myself, I became more or less notorious. “My music” was recorded by Nine Inch Nails, Nirvana, Tool and, by 1995, I discovered Marilyn Manson. I gave myself a mask of makeup, wore a cape, and carried a cane to help me with my “emotional instability.” I was only half-kidding.
My closest female friend went to a school 30 minutes away, but I had a boyfriend I loved deeply. He’s the one who wore a gold lamé suit at the homecoming dance when I was queen.
Meredith and I are still extremely close, despite the fact that for about a decade after graduation, I teetered on the edge of self-destruction. We reconnected via Facebook, the way God intended.
On the day of my 20-year high school reunion, I’m celebrating my career. I’m proud of my hard work and my thick skin. I’ve earned degrees in psychology and communication, focusing on journalism. My success is self-defined and I’m genuinely happy.
Though I stay open-minded to making friends, I prefer avoiding people outside my immediate family. My husband is my best friend and I credit him with saving my life.
My beautiful blond-haired, blue-eyed daughter started Kindergarten this year, after her preschool teacher awarded her “Most Articulate.”
She earned “student of the month” 11 days into the first month of school because “She’s such sunshine,” the teacher said. My daughter’s sensitive, but she’s confident and I think she has much of what I lacked at an early age.
When I think back on my early education, I remember how quickly my wonder and natural curiosity were tainted. Kids can be so cruel. That likely won’t change and I know far many had far worse.
In forgetting my perspectives and forgiving those who misunderstood me, I’ve made friends on social media with classmates I never really knew. I’ve most certainly moved on and I don’t long for pity, apologies or explanations.
In sharing this open letter, I want only to give voice to my thoughts in the hope that those who saw a different me than I remember, choose to teach their kids to be kind. I tell my daughter she doesn’t have to like everyone, she doesn’t have to pretend, but she does need to treat everyone with respect.
I respect my hometown and the kids who got a chance to grow up. I’m thrilled to be one of them.
When I was in sixth grade, my attempts at making friends involved sitting next to strangers at long brown lunch tables and asking for people’s phone numbers. Don’t be surprised to learn that by the time I was in eighth grade I had changed schools and hung my head under dyed-black hair and long black dresses. I started to hate people, thinking their ways more worthy of study than communication.
In my happier moments, I referred to myself as a “Gothic hippie” because I at times liked plaid flannels and mismatched punky skirts. But by the time I finished high school I had an acid test of quickly determining the likelihood of bonding with someone.
“Do you listen to Tool?” was always a primer. I mean that in the sense of base coating a relationship. Without that connection—which, of course, meant more than simply liking the same music—the bond would probably rust; the friendship wouldn’t last.
As the ‘90s transitioned into the 2000s, the first question more often started with humor. “Have you seen TV’s Mr. Show?” If you’re the kind of person I’d connect with, you hear the inflection.
Humor, music and, most importantly, words/lyrics, created the foundation for my lifelong friendships, though I rarely connected easily. I would peel my oniony layers off fast at times. I’m sure I scared away many people, but that was the goal. It was always all or nothing with me.
As I navigated the politics of the workplace, oftentimes incredibly unsuccessfully, I started to get the hang of not acting like a complete weirdo. It made me an incredible coffee cashier, waitress and bartender, when I flew from guest to table with quick witty quips and sayings that wouldn’t register until after I ran a drink order.
I never made friends easily. I didn’t want to after the heartbreak of sixth grade.
In late 2007, I took the opportunity to sign up for guitar lessons. I wanted to date the teacher. Well, that’s a bit untrue. I had just started working at a retail music store and broken up with a dependent, loser boyfriend. I would have ended our six-month relationship faster, but I had taken pity on him and moved him into my mother’s house. That doubled the length of time we spent together.
By December of 2007 I was ready to quit. I had seriously had enough of relationships where passion wasn’t enough and a real partner seemed impossible. I would turn 30 the following October. I felt old.
So, this tall, long-haired metalhead with a leather jacket piqued my interest, but I wasn’t ready to start peeling off my layers again. I still felt burned and my skin hurt.
At our first lesson I’m sure I asked about Tool. I probably mentioned other bands, too. I know I brought up “Mr. Show.” Nearly two decades from the height of Mr. Show’s popularity on HBO and 11 years after Tool’s last release, I had much to teach my guitar instructor.
We’ve been married six years and have two kids, but on the rare occasion I try to bond with another human being, I start by asking things such as “Have you heard the new Puscifer album?”
Slapping wrists of those who write the news: journalists discuss First Amendment violations in Atlanta
By Ellen Eldridge, President-Elect, SPJ Georgia
Atlanta, Georgia – John Ruch said he thought someone was being a jerk by waving a hand in front of his cell phone as he tried to take a picture of a protester’s arrest Nov. 26. The Creative Loafing freelance reporter said he had a great view through the crowd in Atlanta, and he was trying to take photographs for his assignment.
Moments later, Ruch realized the hand belonged to an Atlanta police officer. The officer grabbed Ruch’s arm from behind and another officer nodded an okay to arrest Ruch and a few others, who he said seemed randomly chosen from the crowd. A police officer also confiscated his cell phone.
The Nov. 26 Atlanta protest marches were fueled by the Missouri grand jury’s Nov. 24 decision not to indict the white Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, who shot and killed an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, on Aug. 9.
“’You’re under arrest. Get on the ground,’ were her first words to me,” Ruch said during a gathering of journalists at an Atlanta pub on Martin Luther King Day, Jan. 19. On this national holiday, the Society of Professional Journalists – Georgia organized a serious chat to discuss the recent First Amendment rights violations in Georgia.
WXIA/WATL News Director Jennifer Rigby attended the gathering as a representative for 11 Alive News because one of the station’s video photojournalists, Tyson Paul, was arrested at the same night as Ruch. Along with Ruch, Creative Loafing Editor-in-Chief Debbie Michaud and News Editor Thomas Wheatley attended. Creative Loafing is an Atlanta alternative online and print news weekly.
Board members from SPJ Georgia, Kennesaw State University SPJ Chapter President Alex Moore and guests joined the discussions with Georgia First Amendment Foundation Executive Director Hollie Manheimer and GFAF board member and Kennesaw University Journalism Professor Carolyn Carlson to address the rights of the press. Even though the amendment is highly regarded by those actively reporting under the freedom of the press, all American citizens have protection under the First Amendment.
Ruch described how his excitement turned to confusion and fear as he spotted his news editor through the masses of people and police.
“I kept asking why I was being arrested, and I see poor Thomas (Wheatley) wandering the sidewalk somehow free to commit journalism on his own,” Ruch said.
Journalists around the table laughed, but then the mood switched to stern opinions on why it should or shouldn’t matter if a journalist carries a formal press credential to identify them as a member of the press, and furthermore, asked why is it illegal to be arrested for taking a photo of an arrest from the sidewalk.
Ruch was asked for his press credentials by the Atlanta police officer who arrested him. Would presenting a press credential have stopped the police officer from arresting the journalist? Unknown. Ruch said journalists or citizens don’t need to carry press credentials under freedom of speech guaranteed by the First Amendment. As a freelance reporter for Creative Loafing, Ruch was not issued a press credential from the publication. Since his arrest on Nov. 26, Creative Loafing does provide press credentials to their freelance contributors, said Michaud.
When Wheatley walked over to where Ruch’s arrest was occurring, he said he asked the officer, “Is this your first time arresting a journalist?” Next, looking down at his cell phone, Wheatley said he was frustrated because his cell phone had only one bar of battery power left, but as a news editor facing one of his reporters’ arrest, he went ahead and made the call to a public information officer for the Atlanta Police Department. He later was able to charge his phone at a friend’s home nearby and continued to communicate with Michaud throughout the evening and early morning hours of Thanksgiving Day.
Many protesters were arrested or detained by Georgia and Atlanta law enforcement, loaded into a corrections buses and taken to precincts throughout Atlanta and to Turner (baseball) Field.
Only hours before Ruch and Paul were to appear in front of a judge, they were bailed out. The two journalists appeared in court and stood before a judge in a packed courtroom to hear their charges. Both Wheatley and Rigby agreed the Atlanta city attorney, police chief and mayor apologized quickly. The city attorney was “fairly horrified” and charges had already been dropped, Rigby said.
“Cops need better training,” she added in regard to the newer and lower ranking officers’ lack of knowledge of the First Amendment and arresting journalists doing their jobs by covering breaking news.
The two arrested journalists were bailed out quickly “as is possible” with the booking process, Manheimer said, adding that in terms of advocacy, the burden is not on the journalist. “There isn’t a class of people who have more First Amendment rights than others,” she said.
George Chidi, a freelancer who fought a temporary restraining order filed against him by a political candidate, jumped in to the conversation.
“They do this crap all the time,” Chidi said. “How do we punish them for it?”
Rigby said 11 Alive wouldn’t be pursuing the case further now that the reporter is free and charges have been dropped. The photojournalist was actually filming live when a relatively young Atlanta officer made the arrest. Rigby says the photojournalist told the police officer he was on television and the officer said, “That’s awesome.” The entire arrest was filmed by one of the station’s choppers, Rigby said.
Though Ruch and Paul spent a handful of hours in jail Nov. 26 and Chidi in October was unable to blog for two or more weeks, these Georgia journalists might not see a lasting impact on their careers but did voice that the aggravation was unnecessary and illegal.
Chidi did note that the two weeks he was legally prevented from blogging were the last two weeks of the election he was covering. That makes the time significant, he said.
Rather than seeking revenge, SPJ Georgia and the journalists gathered advocate for more training of new police officers and to continue the conversation on the First Amendment with law enforcement and the general public.
Rigby suggested that the public’s opinion of media doesn’t always support the mission. “People think we’re part of the problem,” she said.
Ruch added that some people think reporters just bring grief. Others may think that if the media didn’t cover protesters, the protests would stop, he said. Even though these sentiments might be said by some individuals, the Supreme Court upholds the freedom of the press to act as a check on government and a way for the public to stay informed.
“Not many people cared about me getting arrested,” Ruch said, but he said he wanted to report the stories of those in the paddy wagon with him. He was less concerned with sharing his own story than reporting about those locked up with him.
“Their stories would be great. Why doesn’t anyone care?” he asked.
To answer those tough questions, the journalists who gathered on Jan. 19 focused on the re-dedication to the craft: stronger storytelling, more in-depth reporting and making First Amendment rights issues more readable.
As for a citizen’s right for freedom of speech or a journalist’s freedom of the press, many at the gathering said “we, like them, are just doing our jobs” under the First Amendment.
If proper nouns were allowed in Scrabble, Koretzky would be a high-value name. But we’re not playing Scrabble. We’re writers, and without Michael Koretzky, region 3 director for Society of Professional Journalists, we wouldn’t have programs like Will Write For Food. Also, I wouldn’t have made it home on Labor Day.
A whirlwind 36 hours of chaotic reporting, lede creating and nut graph recreating taught me and 21 other student journalists the value of getting out of the newsroom and out of our comfort zone. I expected nothing less from the adviser who hooked me on SPJ with his engaging programs.
In his closing email to the students, Koretzky wrote, “This weekend, some of you accused me of being negative and melodramatic. You’re probably right – I’m not objective enough to journalistically debate that. But if we agree on this point, it means when I say nice things, those definitely must be true.”
Then, he went on to compliment the group.
I’ve seen the debates, battles and wars waged with Koretzky at the wheel, and regardless of what professional journalists or otherwise think of him, he is nearly single-handedly inspiring students to get active in building their journalism careers.
Not only did Koretzky tell me the personal magazine I toiled over for seven years had no place as a line item on my resume, he said anyone thinking about applying for Will Write For Food was considering doing something “really stupid.”
I think that’s part of his charm.
Koretzky appears viciously blunt in print, and in person. He won’t sugarcoat shit, and if students develop a thick enough skin, they will realize how effective Koretzky’s criticism is.
Underneath all the ink covering his heart, Koretzky cares immensely for the students he advises. Several times over the weekend, he told us he wished he could help more financially. One student traveled from as far away as Alaska, but each student only received $100 toward travel. And we slept 3 to 4 to a room. Just kidding; we didn’t sleep.
Sadly, Society of Professional Journalists doesn’t chip in for the Will Write For Food program. It was funded by the South Florida Black Journalists Association, The National Association of Hispanic Journalists South Florida Chapter, The South Florida pro chapter of SPJ and Koretzky himself.
After overcoming the unsurprising yet still overwhelming smell of the shelter dining room, filled with people swollen with Florida summer sweat, I endured the fast-paced storytelling and cruised through a 3-hour nap before catching a ride to the airport.
This blog was originally going to be more like the one I wrote after Koretzky’s Interviewing the Undead program last year, where I castigated Greyhound, but I realized this blog needed to be about Koretzky himself.
While another student heading home to Atlanta and I hopped out of Koretzky’s jeep an hour before our flight, aggravations and airline-created delays caused us to get to the gate one minute after its closing. The plane sat behind one Spirit Airlines attendant and us, but she refused to let us on our flight.
We had to go back to the ticketing counter and Spirit Airlines told me I couldn’t get a guaranteed flight until more than 30 hours later. That’s enough time to put together an issue of The Homeless Voice. My friend couldn’t guarantee a flight until two days later. The stress of the whole weekend rained over me, but I did not cry. Even when Spirit Airlines told me I would have to pay more than I originally paid for a round trip ticket to Florida, to fly home.
As I contemplated renting a car to make the 11-hour drive back to Atlanta, Koretzky saved the day. He, through a series of texts, promised to reimburse us for any ticket to get us home. At any cost. To a homeless student journalist, this was winning the lottery.
Without excess hyperbole, Koretzky helped me craft my career. I haven’t even finished my degree, but I fine-tuned my resume using Koretzky’s tips and landed a part-time job as a staff writer on a newspaper. When I joined SPJ, I did so for the line item on my resume. When I found Koretzky’s programs, I got involved. I believe getting involved and networking is the key. That, and trials by fire.
Why I want to be SPJ’s student representative in 2014
I added my name to the longest list of names competing for one of two student representatives for Society of Professional Journalists because I want to help pioneer the field of journalism in the digital age.
Many journalists who have been at it for a while–and it often takes a while to make a name for oneself in the field–still don’t regularly use social media. I’d guess quite a few journalists worry about damaging their brands or inadvertently hurting the organizations they represent, but digital is fact.
I plan to blog more in the next few months about how I feel social media, content marketing and journalism converge.
My SPJ Candidate Profile:
Current SPJ Office: Kennesaw State University campus chapter president
Current Employment: Student intern at Cherokee Tribune; senior communication major at Kennesaw State University (3.8 GPA); freelance content marketer
Previous SPJ Experience: Held current office since 2013
Past Work Experience: Public Affairs Specialist in U.S. Army Reserves (46Q) 2000-2006, implemented newsletter as lesson coordinator at 6-store music retail chain in Georgia 2007-2011, founded marketing magazine for artistic entrepreneurs 2007-present; freelance music journalist for national print and online mediums (Performer Magazine and AtlantaMusicGuide.com) 2008-present.
Education: B.S. in psychology (2009); currently a senior working toward a B.S. in communication (2015 expected); HootSuite Social Media Certification (2013) and brand ambassador (2014)
Honors, Awards and Activities: Golden Key Honor Society, SPJ, Who’s Who in American College Students (2014), Adult Learner’s Award (2014), Student Media (staff writer for The Sentinel newspaper, editor-in-chief for Talon feature magazine, literary editor for Share literary magazine).
Why I’m seeking this SPJ office:
As a long-time student of journalism and lover or the written word, I want to pioneer innovation and help experienced and new journalists navigate the changing career field of communication. Freelancing and training are the parts of the SPJ mission closest to my heart. As a HootSuite brand ambassador I hope to encourage journalists of all skill levels integrate social media into reporting, which will also help the individual brands of media outlets struggling to find a foothold.
As a campus representative, I will work to spread the mission and goals of SPJ as well as work with journalism majors to learn social media and learn how original well-written content can help build a brand. Not public relations writing, but objective content. I also want to stay connected to the largest organization for journalists, and I want to encourage students to get involved not only with student media but also in contributing as members in the Society of Professional Journalists as I have with a blog for The Independent Journalist in the SPJ network.
Find me on Google Plus, LinkedIn and Twitter. If you’re truly into social media and want to find me across the Internet, I am also on Facebook and Pinterest. I look forward to the coming weeks and months leading up to Excellence in Journalism 2014 in Nashville this September.
This is day 28 of 30-day blog challenge. Read day 27: “3 songs to propose to this year”
I hate to admit that I’m not perfect, and I’ve written about the problem of perfectionism previously. If I know anything, finishing what you start is crucial. But, artists and writers shouldn’t strive for complete perfectionism. We can learn a great deal from mistakes.
As I wind down my 30-day blog challenge, I am convinced I will be able to maintain a blog calendar and a weekly schedule for blogging. I won’t wander into the abyss of abandoned blogs, but tonight I simply have too much to work on to write anything meaningful.
See you tomorrow! Use tonight to catch up on my blog challenge posts if you feel so inclined!
This is day 27 of 30-day blog challenge. Read day 26: “I used to rant like fruit gone rotten”
I live north of Atlanta, but a few artists I love are touring. I saw something on Facebook where a fan proposed to his girlfriend at a concert, and, as my own five-year anniversary is around the corner, I thought I post a quick video blog of three romantic songs to get engaged to. If you want to pop the question at a show this year, check these tours out:
1. Ratdog (playing Atlanta’s Tabernacle March 16)
The other night my soul hit the pavement
And I looked up, and I didn’t have eyes
Oh to see the beauty, joy and the tenderness
The reasons why a man’s alive
Sometimes a darkness falls upon the spirit
And it gets dark like there ain’t never been light
May be angels singing, but you don’t want to hear it
That inner flame ain’t burning so bright (note 1)
And you’ll find no saints here
When the going gets this rough
But you may find grace
If you’re lucky enough
Every love has a whole in the middle
Where the wickedness always survives
Eats at your soul, maybe just a little (note 2)
Then it gets as big as the night
Doesn’t matter how much you show her
Sure don’t matter what she’s trying to show you
When you can’t feel it, that love seems to scatter
And precious little gonna see you through
And we’re going on faith here
And all of that kind of stuff
And even grace
If we’re lucky enough
There’s a line you can hold
Through the separateness and sin
Open up your soul
And let the sky fall in
The deepest journeys pass through the wilderness
The desert where the burning question resides
To taste the magic you must first suck the emptiness
From a cup that is always dry
Inside the silence, and total aridity (note 3)
Where the horizon is a perfect line
Lies a drop that precedes the humidity (note 4)
Of simple grace, that pours like wine
And you’ll find no saints here
None of that kind of stuff
But you may find grace
If you’re lucky enough
Well you may find grace
If you’re lucky enough
If you’re lucky enough
If you’re lucky enough
Well you may find grace
If you’re lucky enough
If you’re lucky enough
Well you may find grace
1) in earlier versions, Weir sang “Your sole concern is making it through the night”
2) in earlier versions, Weir sang these two lines as
“Ain’t no big deal, well maybe just a little
“when that hurricane of misery arrives”
(3) I had an earlier version of this line that may have been in part a mis-hearing: “There is a place with falls of fluidity”
(4) the lyrics with the CD have “drought” but “drop” seems to be what Weir sings, and makes better sense
2. Brad Paisely (playing Atlanta at Aaron’s Amphitheatre at Lakewood June 22)
“I Can’t Change the World”
3. Tori Amos (playing Atlanta’s Cobb Energy Theatre August 19)
Hmm, okay on second thought, don’t propose to your lover during a Tori Amos song. Rather, propose along with tickets to the show. Tori may have found happiness and love in marriage, but the sentiment doesn’t gel in any song that I can think of. Her last album, Night of Hunters, was a concept album.
I’ll just leave you with one of my favorite songs, where Maynard J. Keenan accompanies her:
This is day 26 of 30-day blog challenge. Read day 26: “Where does creativity come from”
Many people don’t know I published a book of poetry. Fewer care, I’m sure. But, because I have way too much to do to write a blog tonight, I’ll share. The best reason to consider buying a copy of “Beyond the Eyes” is my sister’s work. Cyan Jenkins is a freelance illustrator, and this book was created as her senior project. She graduated from the Ringling College of Art in 2009. Then she and I both got married that same year. I married in March (while she was on spring break), and she married in June, shortly after she graduated. She and I each had our first baby in 2010, but she had her son before I had my daughter so she got me back for marrying first.
I’m proud of the work Cyan and I did together. I enjoyed watching her illustrate my poems. She breathed life into my imagination in a cool way. Some of the images I wouldn’t have thought up. She just took my words as inspiration to paint.
One of the poems in “Beyond the Eyes” speaks to a much darker time in my life. My husband and babies really took a chunk of my dark side away.
Reading this now makes me critical of my earlier work. Rambling madness and desperate cries for meaning and attention. But, I shouldn’t be so hard on myself I suppose. I like the like about chord tones because I know I got that from my husband trying to teach me about playing guitar. One day I will practice and become greater at guitar. Until then, I have Russell Eldridge.
I rarely write poetry anymore. I mean to get back to it, but for now I feel disconnected from the craft because I used it for so long to purge those feelings I couldn’t share with anyone else.
If you have any desire to read “Beyond the Eyes,” contact me and I can send you a copy. Cyan may still have some as well, but you certainly don’t need to pay Amazon prices.