Joanna is an alum from our 2014-15 cohort. She recently published a book of poems entitled “Snake Pit”. You can purchase a copy by clicking here. You can also view videos of her performing select pieces of poetry on her YouTube page, here.
One weekday evening, over dinner, my roommates were discussing the imminent full moon and the weirdness it would bring. There were anecdotes about the phenomenon and someone citing vague crime statistics to prove that the world is truly stranger on the full moon. After a while, my determination to stay silent imploded. “Sorry, and feel free to ignore me, but it will hurt my soul if I don’t say this – I know you all know that nothing about the full moon, like, mystically encourages weird things to happen. It is confirmation bias. You expect weird things to happen so notice when they do, forgetting the other weird thing that happened last week that had no relation to the moon.” I smiled, relieved. “Sorry for interrupting. Go on.” They laughed and continued discussing the moon.*
I am that person. I know things and it bothers me when other people seem to not know these things, because having all the relevant information could influence their decision making, or so my thought process goes. So the pressure of the facts pounds within my chest until it must be expressed or I will shudder to an agonizing, soggy halt, like an overstuffed laundry machine. Even though saying something will make me the most insufferable person. Trust that I know that person is the worst. I annoy myself.
Other people believe things. (Not that they don’t also know things, but their primary way of interacting with the world is through belief. The sentence sounds better short. Just go with it.)
JSC did not teach me this. Nor did it resolve some sort of conflict (we all just need a little more of the other! Or something.) Rather, it gave me the ability to be comfortable with that fundamental difference, with my inability to have complete knowledge about it. It is always easier and more fun to let your mind expand to encircle different, sometimes contradictory, possibilities than to try to deflate the world enough to squeeze into what you’ve already constructed.
A few years ago, I moved to Austin and I now work for the University of Texas in the Office of the Registrar. It’s a very data heavy job where I get to look at spreadsheets every day. A practical result of JSC for me was that I learned that a job where I spend my time directly serving people is not for me. Not that I don’t like helping – I’m just really not great with people.
I started writing and performing much more earnestly after I moved and published a collection of poetry called Snake Pit. I have always hoped/planned to write a book at some point, but the book would not have looked like this if I had not spent a year in this program. I came to JSC straight out of college, desperately attempting to frogger myself away from the oncoming vehicles of post-collegiate unemployment and its attendant shame and malaise. JSC then asked me to sit still and stop emulating 80s video game characters. It made me a lot more emotionally honest, both with myself and others. That made the book an inevitability.