SCHOOL’S OUT, ROOKIES! And, for me and any fellow graduates, it’s out FOREVER!
I have nothing to reflect upon, no nuggets to share, no eulogizing to do. I’m just done! Like, here is a selfie I took the night before my last day of school, totally mindfucked by life and change and what it all means:
And here I am at the moment after the final bell rang, totally excited by life and change and what it all means!
I have appreciated this four-year chunk of life and the time I spent trying to understand it all more than I can express, but if I attempt to process any of it now, or even put on a song I used to like, I am overcome with guilt over the idea that I might be keeping myself from all the people I’m about to become and all the lives I’ve yet to lead, and I do not want to die with any of my potential untapped.
I don’t know if I would be this hell-bent on being hell-bent if I didn’t have the motivation of heartbreak. One poem I’ve written out a few times just to better ingrain the words in my ’tude is by Rainer Maria Rilke:
You see, I want a lot.
Perhaps I want everything
the darkness that comes with every infinite fall
and the shivering blaze of every step up.
So many live on and want nothing
And are raised to the rank of prince
By the slippery ease of their light judgments
But what you love to see are faces
that do work and feel thirst.
You love most of all those who need you
as they need a crowbar or a hoe.
You have not grown old, and it is not too late
To dive into your increasing depths
where life calmly gives out its own secret.
I’ve also been finding comfort and fuel in Emily Brontë’s “Remembrance,” and in how acutely it captures the temptation of indulging in nostalgia when an inevitable change is upon us. Then the poem basically becomes “Big Girls Don’t Cry” by Fergie and Brontë is like, “I kind of just need to get on with my life, now, though.” Two more I really want to share with you in case you don’t know them and you too are in a transitional phase and need something that feels comforting and familiar but new enough to get you where you’re going: “As I Walked Out One Evening” by W.H. Auden and “here’s to opening and upward” by E.E. Cummings. I’ve been writing out my favorite parts of these poems on note cards and posters and taping them up all over my room because I think that’s supposed to help you know/feel something on an emotional level that you may currently know/feel on only an intellectual level. I get bashful when a friend sees my wall, and my sister teases me about it looking Pinterest-y, but seriously, it makes all the difference in the world to make a thought a tangible thing instead of expecting your body to learn I am OK just because the thought ran through your mind.
All of that is very much what this month’s theme, ACTION, is about. For the most part, we just feel like Rookie already has so much content about reflecting on your past and preparing for the future; we wanted to do a month that’s purely about NOW. But I also hope that by, the end of it, you too will come to feel a kind of unbreakable Bob the Builder determination to fill your brain and space with the things you need. Here is what I wrote our staff when we started working on this theme:
Lately we’ve had a lot of reflective months about big-picture stuff like artistic vision and personal identity and life plans, so I think it’s time for a theme that’s more about DOING SHIT. Not necessarily getting shit done in the productive sense, but just GOING FOR IT. This month is about living in the moment in that way that only seems possible in the summer. Flirting with people you’re shy around, rlly dancing instead of just doing the Social Sway, dumb but so important low-fi friend adventures, testing your own limits. I want our readers to go through this month getting more and more confident in their instincts. Think Broad City, Tom Tom Club, ESG, Le Tigre, Salt-N-Pepa and their devotion to a “just do you and don’t think twice about it” lifestyle. BRIGHT ’N’ COLORFUL visual artists like Keith Haring, our own Hattie Stewart, Peter Max, Alia Penner, and Abbi Jacobson. The arcade. Roller coasters. Block parties. Showdowns and dance-offs. Going for days without using the internet because you’re just, like, sleepovers every night.
Action like sex, impulsive sex, purely physical, non-emotional sex. Action like being direct in how you communicate with others, be it in a get-what-you-want career way or in a romantic relationship or with a guardian. Action like the power of visibility, of existing as someone consistently silenced and how refusing to go away is a radical act in and of itself. Action like picking yourself up after an unfortunate experience or just a bad day. (Lola said something today about how when you are in the middle of shit, there’s no turning back and avoiding dealing with stuff; you have to GO THROUGH IT, and the good feelings are waiting for you at the end.) Action like ridiculous self-pump-up stuff that we should all be doing because there’s no reason not to say “I’m a badass bitch” in the mirror every day (me) (besides feeling ridiculous, but WHO CARES?). I want this month to help our readers eliminate their fear of feeling ridiculous or looking dumb. Last year when M.I.A. played at Pitchfork, there were a lot of people from my school that we just could not get away from, and finally I had to decide that I didn’t really care if I looked stupid dancing—and that, of course, is when my dancing got rlly good.
Here’s what Anaheed had to say:
I was listening to an interview recently on Black Girls Talking about the Carefree Black Girls Tumblr, and one of the BGT girls talked about how she herself had started a Tumblr that is just pictures of black girls riding bicycles, because she liked bike-riding but felt like all she ever saw were pictures of like wispy white girls happily riding bikes with little baskets, etc., which made bike-riding feel like something she’s not “supposed” to do. Speaking of that Tumblr, how gorgeous is this picture?
Another one of the BGTs chimed in that she had quit doing yoga because she was the only black person in her class, and that felt weird, but then she subscribed to the Black Yogis Tumb and saw people who looked like her doing this thing she wanted to do, so she was back to it.
Which all got me thinking about how DOING STUFF is often more profound and politically effective than thinking and writing and talking about stuff. And about how being “carefree” and having fun is something that white people and privileged people usually take for granted. But those who’ve been systematically oppressed have to fight for it. And anything people are willing to fight for must be REALLY EFFING IMPORTANT. Just as important as all of the cerebral acts we place so much value on: thinking about stuff and making stuff. DOING STUFF can be a form of expression too. It can say a lot.
But aside from all that SERIOUS STUFF, action is just FUN. And fun is important! Especially, I would argue, for people who spend a lot of time being considered and careful and attentive and thoughtful. I had a music teacher in college, Bill Dixon, who was real real serious in class and who didn’t suffer fools. He was pretty intimidating. One time I asked him what he listened to when he wasn’t listening to jazz (which is what he taught), and he goes, “BARBRA STREISAND.” When I looked surprised, he said, “You can’t be HEAVY 24 hours a day!” I have obviously never forgotten that. It taught me that even the most genius-y people (no, especially the most genius-y people) need a break sometimes from DEEP RUMINATIONS to just ENJOY shit. (I’m not saying that Barbra Streisand isn’t deep or worthy of penetrating analysis, but this dude was so erudite about jazz that probably listening to any other kind of music would have been a nice li’l vacation for his brain.)
Speaking of vacation! There’s a reason we have them—from school or from work. I just googled “the importance of vacation” and found a study that concluded that vacations’ “personal benefits have been found to include: rest and recuperation from work, provision of new experiences leading to a broadening of horizons and the opportunity for learning and intercultural communication, promotion of peace and understanding, personal and social development, visiting friends and relatives, religious pilgrimage and health, and subjective wellbeing.”
See? FUN IS IMPORTANT. It’s good for your brain, your body, your spirit. It can make you HAPPY, and what’s more profound than that? And isn’t that what summer’s all about?
INDEED! And now, I will leave you with this: After graduation yesterday, I went to my first ever High School Party. This isn’t a braggy “dude, I was so wasted” story so much as it is just an “I am an idiot, and maybe know your limits with this stuff, but this one thing that happened was funny” type of cautionary tale. There was dancing/talking/kissing/vomiting, and then I came home, and my mom helped me get water and get into bed. This morning she told me I had said to her, after all her maternal caretaking, “You are, like, such a good friend.” I spoke to my mother like she was some other dumb intoxicated teen!!
HAVE FUN AND STAY SAFE.