Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Retreat, Censorship, Competition and the Sound of Terri Gross's Voice

Odilia Rivera Santos

I am one of those self-contained entertainment centers who can keep herself engaged in some kind of intellectual, spiritual pursuit in the middle of a storm, airports, and lovemaking with a lot of words and requests coming in rapid succession like orders at a truck stop. I believe in taking and giving chances, in experimentation as long as the body and mind remain intact, and dreaming about the impossible. I am adamant about doing things in my own time though, which might frustrate the real American psyche.

There is a level of comfort I feel within myself that cannot be shook and this explains my disinterest in competition. Why should I worry about you when I can chart my own progress, measure the height of my accomplishments on that chart on the wall with achievements marked off in pencil?
I know it is a long question. Bear with me.

I use language as I want and never or almost never think about censorship. Writers have to write or they are not writers and to publish is to be seen, exposed, etc. We show parts of ourselves in different contexts and suppress that which would be inconsiderate, ugly or in some other way unacceptable. We sit at the meeting with blank faces and minds, not thinking of how things should or could be, but of walking meditation. A meeting is an exercise in walking meditation. This practice allows you to study the situation in an oblique way and to present the invisible universal board of directors with your best face. The best face being blank, immobile, not too ethnically expressive or denoting any sense that you think you could make a contribution. No. It's not about that.
Competition happens around you and you walk by it like it's a car accident and everyone else has stopped to look and you come across as a haughty, arrogrant individual because you genuinely do not need to look. It's not that you don't care, it's not that you're jaded and feel that you've seen accident victims before, it's that you've chosen to not be involved. Why even look if you don't plan on being involved?
No. It isn't for me. Competition speaks of corporate sponsorships and relationships built on lies with people approaching those they deem superior to themselves as if they feared getting bitten or torn apart emotionally. No. I am not defined by crowds or corporate sponsors.
There is a very straight track that some people were placed on at a young age that told them they would go to college, become professionals, marry, have children, stay emotionally-detached enough to leave the child with a really nice lady from up the street and then, organized family vacations with accompanying family photographs to remember you were there.
It is an interesting prescription in a world that increasingly points toward a freelancer's economy and a freelancer in every other sense, including in the arena of love, child-rearing and happiness.
I did warn you from the beginning that this would be a meandering and as a student of literature and ghetto politics, well you know my writing will never be what you expect and maybe, not even what you want.

For the last two days, I have kept a low profile, save for a little sojourn to a reggae spot to watch Jamaican men sway and rub up against White women. The women allowed too much familiarity because they desperately wanted to be cool and these were REAL LIVE RASTAS WITH DREADS AND EVERYTHING!
NYC is a glorious place with plenty of opportunities for solitude, noise and sensory and auditory overload, but you know as much as you love it, you know it's time for a time-out when you jump at the sound of Terri Gross's voice.

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