Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The Mask of Defeat

Before I begin, I will say that I intend to use my digital camera a bit more dynamically in this article. Be prepared for photos without captions.

I titled this entry "The Mask of Defeat" for a good reason: I could not reasonably call it "Defeat" alone or even "Hope for a New Tomorrow" because neither is how I feel.

Perhaps I should back up. Give the exposition first--like Star Wars does with the scrolling yellow text disappearing into the stars. If I knew how to program flash text, I could do that (and in fact power my own website without the help of Blogger.)
Rather, I'm going to move forward, like a lot of other good movies. They start mid-action, without any kind of explanation, hoping the audience does not leave after paying $8.50 to get in. (Sarcasm should be detected here.)

Lynné asked me if I wanted to walk to Safeway with her. I declined. I'd rather write to you people.
There are many good things happening to me. How strange it is that a single bad thing has covered my entire perspective.
I think it's time for another picture.

I've waited a long time to hear news from the Eastern Washington University writing program. Nearly two months. One friend of mine has submitted ten applications to schools (ten of those) and received letters of acceptance and refusal in the time it has taken me to hear a refusal/acceptance from Eastern Washington.
I drove to their campus to talk to one of the deciding faculty members to get some kind of verdict.
"So, you haven't heard anything?"
"No one wrote to you, right?"
This is May and the selections for the Teaching Assistantship I applied for--the assistantship I need in order to fund my graduate college career--have been made. Already. All seven positions, filled.
"Well, there is one person who hasn't accepted yet. But the chances are slim still. Not many people drop out at this point."
I don't imagine they do. I wouldn't.
I leave the offices more than a little disappointed. I am wearing the said "Mask of Defeat."

I drafted them a letter. This is a letter aside from the one I wrote to the program director. What I wrote to him went along the lines of "I read your book. It spoke to my soul. Can we talk about it?" No response to that one. I'm not imagining I'll get much response from this one.

To the Attentive Staff at Eastern Washington University's Inland Northwest Center,

I sincerely thank you for accepting my application and offering me a place as a student in your program. I regret that, due to financial concerns, I cannot register for any courses unless a Teaching Assistantship becomes available to me. Please, retain my application in the event that such an assistantship appears, for then you will see me in classes the coming fall.
I will brag to all my friends that I was accepted into your prestigious program.

-Youssef Sleiman

Well, the letter was necessary since I'd sent them a note saying I would attend classes. Now, I'm amending that to a would-if-I-could note.
There was something particularly cathartic in writing that note. From the standpoint of a writer, I really enjoyed telling them "I regret" and "No, now drop dead" since so many little magazines (okay, just a couple) wrote notes like that to me. BUT Still... they are dreaded notes, and I hope that even colleges don't like receiving them.
What you may notice though is a gentle shift in tone. Since there is still a slim chance, I don't want to ruin it! So I say things like "Please" and "I brag about you." Instead of being the vengeful victim, I turn into the pedantic pleader. Some sympathy can't be too hard to garner--but not like I want some sympathy from a talent-blind trio such as those professors.
In 4th grade, I witnessed a boyfriend/girlfriend break-up. She went up to him, with one of those pre-meditated sighs that denoted she decided he was a loser but connoted that she thought he was a loser all along--and gave him a note. He read it. "Hey, you're not breaking up with me. I'm breaking up with you." And he stuffed the letter into her locker and left.
I feel like that, writing the note. I feel like that now.

Having the head-knowledge of a mature Christian robs me of a full-range of emotions, I think. As soon as I approach my disappointment, phrases pop into my head.
Silver Lining.
Close a door--open a window.
He has plans for you.
I am still disappointed that I did not receive the job. (and yes, I thought of it as a job before I thought of the learning potential.) These phrases really don't lessen that, but it prevents me from dwelling on it. I prayed all this time that if the Lord had something better for me, that he would show it to me. That He would re-direct me from whatever course I deemed worth my time, to something He thought was worth his time.
I could give a bunch of Job-inspired lines.
I want to.
But they're not true for me, any more than it was for Job to curse God and die.

The truth is that I am left in the middle. I'm not stranded half-way between anything, but staring, seemingly confronted with the face of defeat--but some part of me knows it is only a mask.

One day, hopefully soon, I'll rip it off.

Monday, May 22, 2006

This should catch our interest

I don't yet know how I feel about this tool. I only came across it today as, in a fit of desperation, I went to the Internet for answers. Little did I expect an answer like this.

This is a random story generator. Weird, but true. I'm going to take some of its concepts today and toy with them. If they produce nothing at all, it can't have hurt--or can it?

Need leads to solution, solutions to patterns, patterns to reliance, reliance to addiction... addiction to what? Need.

This is a miniature thought of the day.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Re-Inventing the Wheel

"Re-Inventing the Wheel" -For LilyAnne Miranda

She picked up a cup today--
With a thumb on the back-lip, and her whole palm,
Her body pressed against the shining roll.

She planted a flag on her toes yester-day--
Even now she revisits their coven shores,
Plumbing depthes and
Sending her fumbling conquistadors.

I always believed there were cavemen;
Agog at a tumbling tree,
Though they hacked at it with rocks and then,
They stare, surprised, amazed,
Like she does, at a cup she no longer holds.

Captain Kirk--or his alien counterpart--
probably watched Prometheus sneak from
Vulcan's smoking chambers.
What were in the Captain's eyes as he watched this
bold, sweaty Greek steal fire from the gods?
I watch her like that.
She may one day surpass us all at quantum physics,
or at such poetry that confuses the mystics,
But today, she pushes a block along--
I see her wonder at the shape that will make it roll.

-Youssef Sleiman (2006)

Well, that felt good. I had that one brewing for nearly a week--even though she really did just discover her toes the other day.
I can give myself a guilt trip about everything, but lately I've given myself a tough one about having a daughter. It is such an incredible experience, and she sparks new thoughts in my head each day. What a treasure if I could plumb those depths! A treasure for her, a treasure for anyone else looking ahead at a daughter or remembering back. But, even though I'm a careful observer, I've been lazy. That's what I guilt-trip about: that I'm being a lazy observer.
But it finally came out in this poem. My own mother said I should take careful notes, journal everything. Don't let my laziness gainsay her advice! That is a great way to do it, but I've not yet developed the discipline to write all the thoughts I have down. (Some of you will say, good riddance!) It feels good, in spite of my own guilt trip, to say that I have been observing, storing up my own thoughts. What good news it is to think these inspirations are never lost!
Still--there is much gain. What if I did dedicatedly write these thoughts everyday?

Friday, May 05, 2006

Another Undertaking Worth Mentioning

Yes, I'd talked about it.
Yes, I'd dreamed of it.
Yes, I'd even prepared some for sale...
BUT now I've gone and DONE it!

What I'm refering to is selling some of the nifty clothes that Lynné and I make! So--all of you, Spoon, Jessica, Mom, Stephen, and other regular readers--keep an eye out for something you yourself really want. (And, if you bid and get out-bid, you made me that much cash.) While I'm still keeping some better ideas on the back-burner (I have a really cool shirt that I want to duplicate for Da3vid), I'm slowly spreading my Youssefian style. Here's a link to the e-bay site...

And for the ones just wanting to look at what I'm selling...

In case any of you are wondering, that is Lynné's dress-form... not a person. But dress-forms don't have heads. How did that work?
I took a stuffed toy (talking Larry the Cucumber from VeggieTales fame) and put him in the head. You can't tell because he's under a sheet of black material. But I remember him occasionally saying "I'm not a pickle--I'm a cucumber" and "I'm Larry the Cucumber" while I took the photo. Talk about a surreal experience.

Do you guys think human models are better?

Well, I hope this foray into the Emarketing world goes well. After all, I've had a potato chip in the shape of Craig Thompson's head for nearly three years. If this goes well, expect to see that pop up on Ebay next.

-Youssef Sleiman
PS: For those who aren't from Dallas, Craig Thompson was my best man at my wedding. He was my friend and mentor for those rickety years I spent in college.
PPS: For Craig Thompson, I don't really have a potato chip in the shape of your head. :)