Here’s what I’ve written today of my recreation of Howl for my generation. I’m thinking of calling it Howl for Millennials.
This is what I’d written previously.
incomparable cul-de-sacs of suburban longing and
disgust in the mind leaping toward poles of
Happiness & Irritation, illuminating all the qui-
vering time of Life between,
Cocaine solidities of study halls, backyard family barbecue
yawns, tequila drunkenness in the frat houses,
store-bought over-the-counter joyride neon
flashing cop light, sun and moon and tree
violations in the Save The Earth Club,
ashtray rantings and just sleep slip of mind,
who chained themselves to free bus passes for the endless
ride from up-town to library down-town on no sleep
until the noise of wheels and children brought
them out panicking dry-mouth and
bawling broken of beauty all drained of belief
in the drear light of dorms,
who sank all night in submarine light of dining halls
floated up and sat through the stale pizza after-
noon in wretched student centers, listening to the death
of originality on the loudspeaker,
who talked continuously seventy hours from book store
to dorm to job to dorm to party to the third
a lost generation of state-of-the-weather talkers jumping
down the cliff out windows off bridges
off classroom desks down from the stars,
debating sobbing vomiting reciting formulas
and histories and names and brain wastes
and medications and armed forces,
whole intellects massed in regurgitating for one hour
maybe two with dulled eyes, meat for the
Dean of Students cast on the pavements,
who vanished into nowhere wastes of dropouts leaving a
trail of unambiguous pay-stubs of minimum
suffering summer-day sweats and library knuckle-crack-
ings and migraines of hangovers under sleep-with-
drawal in common area’s bleak furnished room,
who wandered around and around at midnight in the
square wondering where to go, and stayed,
leaving only their own broken hearts,
who lit cigarettes on sidewalks sidewalks sidewalks meandering
through snow toward lonesome bars in grand-
who studied Shakespeare French Mathematics dep-
rivation and healthy habits because the psych de-
partment vibrated at the thought of illness,
who loned it through the endless notion of taxes seeking vi-
tal information that was the only vital information
who thought they were only asleep when midterms
gleamed with academic excellence,
who jumped in cheap cars with the frat boys of Greek
Row on the impulse of winter midnight street-
light smalltown rain,
who lounged hungry and lonesome through semesters
seeking comfort or sex or beer, and followed the
brilliant philosophy major to converse about America
and Eternity, a hopeless task, and so left him
So I’ve had whooping cough and have pretty much been sleeping for the last several days. Whatever. Feeling better today and instead of just rambling, I’ve decided to work on a poem that I started probably about a year ago. It’s, well, a version of Howl by Allen Ginsberg written for my generation. It’s derivative and probably would never stand up against the original, but it means something to me, so I’m going to keep working on it. Right now, I’m going to post what I’d already had done and when I decide to stop working on it for today, I’ll make a new post with what I wrote today.
I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by
moonlight, grasping hysterical lonely,
pushing themselves through the half-lit streets at night
trying to catch the light,
brokensoul poets sobbing for some lost heavenly
connection to the distant illumination of the
who under-employed and uniformed and wind-chilled and sober sat
up smoking on the porches or stoops of
cheap apartments drifting up toward the sky
before going to work,
who bared their brains to school under florescents and
saw literary giants trapesing through lib-
rary shelves illuminated,
who passed through community colleges with radiant cool eyes
hallucinating Oxford and Plathian tragedy
among the armies of scholars,
who were lauded by the academies for papers &
publishing dreary odes in the school’s subset of the
who shivered in unheated rooms in blankets, burn-
ing their money in inefficient heaters and listening
to the high wind through the wall,
who got busted in their public indecency fingering some
girl or guy in the bushes by the library,
who ate their shoes in winter or drank their book fund in
summer time, ruin, or distilled their
blood night after night
with starlight, with Riddlin, with anxiety nightmares, al-
cohol and papers and endless reading,
So my partner and I borrowed all of Avatar: The Last Airbender from the library and pretty much binge watched it. That was fun. It’s one of the kids shows that I really liked as a teen and I liked it just as much when we watched it together. Korra is a totally different situation though.
Korra is a big show. It’s a kids show that doesn’t talk down to kids. It has some real issues in it that don’t often make it into kid’s shows.
I’m gonna do a little list.
- Platonic relationships being just as valid as romantic ones. Mako dates Korra and Assami and then he decides to find out what he’s like without a girlfriend. He winds up building a great relationship with Wu and it’s shown to be equally important to him. (While I really appreciate this, I honestly think that Wu is gay and a little bit in love with Mako. I mean, pretty much everyone is in love with Mako at some point, so I don’t think that’s much of a stretch.)
- PTSD, recovery, and self-worth. Korra gets really fucked up. She shows a lot of classic signs of PTSD. She gets help recovering from it, even though she tries to ignore it for a long time (which is a typical reaction to mental illness). She learns that people can help her, but they can only do so much. She learns that whatever thing is holding her back, she can learn from it and grow stronger. She openly says it’s not something she will forget or move on from. But she discovers that she has the strength to turn this horrible thing into an overwhelming compassion for others.
- Family ties. Was I disappointed that Assami and her father grew closer even after he fucked her over? Yes. Was I annoyed that Junior was accepted back into the family after he fucked everyone over? Totally. Was I frustrated that Korra’s uncle was the only family member who fucked somebody over and wasn’t immediately forgiven, probably only because he was evaporated into spirit dust??? Omg, yeah. But I guess one of the themes of the show was how your family helps you. The cool thing is, nobody puts biological family on a pedestal over adopted family. Tenzen is arguably there for Korra more than her real dad. Ginora takes care of Korra like she does her biological siblings. Bolin takes Kai in immediately, without expecting anything at all from him. Adopted family ties are shown to be just as strong as biological ones. That’s pretty rad.
- Gay stuff. There is not much of it. I know that as a queer individual, I jump onto every queer thing (real or imagined) in any media ever. Call me desperate. I don’t care. The ending with Assami and Korra blew me away. There was no doubt about that one! A totally clean cut, obvious ending where the girl gets the girl! Just kidding. It was mildly ambiguous. If you didn’t already expect them to get together because you think everyone is gay, you might’ve just assumed they were two “gal pals” (shudder) going on vacation together. If they had wanted to make it 100% clear, they would’ve had Korra and Assami kiss. They’d never shied away from having all the heteros kiss. But aside from that, every gay person saw it for what it was. The happiest gay ending ever.
There are faults. There are things in this show that, were I watching it with my children, I would have to contradict. But there are so many things that aren’t even broached to children. The opportunity never even arises to have a conversation about those things because kids aren’t exposed. I think that’s the big deal for me. It opens up an avenue for parents to talk to their kids about some stuff that’s sensitive. I dig it.
Okay, this is something I talk about a lot. Teenage girls. They get on my nerves. Not as much as teenage boys do, but enough. They are stereotypically interested in things I was never interested in as a teen. You know the stuff: hair, makeup, prom, boys. While I am fully aware that not all teenage girls are focused on these things (mostly because I gravitated toward several who weren’t during high school), I’ve seen enough of them who are.
I wouldn’t ever say that teenage girls shouldn’t be interested in the things that they are. And I would never assume that a girl is stupid or worthless because of interest in things that I am not interested in. I think the main problem I have with it is how many of the interests are forced on them by media and then denounced by people as shallow. I want girls to see that happening. I want them to understand that magazines are pushing makeup at them and then people wander around telling them that they shouldn’t wear makeup. I don’t want teenage girls to stop liking makeup, I just want them to be aware that there is a double standard.
And I want them to stand up for what they like. When people tell them that they’re wearing too much makeup, I want them to say, “I don’t give a fuck what you think about my makeup. I like it and I’m going to wear it.”
“I like dying my hair. You can go fuck yourself if you don’t like it.”
“I’m going to read my shitty teen drama romance because I like it and it gives me feelings. Feel free to get the fuck out of my face about it.”
I want teenage girls to use the word “fuck” more often. Can you tell?
I will always support teenage girls. I won’t ever want to talk about hair or prom with them, but I will support them in what they like and I will stand by them while we dismantle the shitty patriarchal double standard surrounding their interests.
I’ve just sat here staring at the blank screen for a literal 5 minutes. I suppose I should put something down here. My partner and I are going to go do laundry today, but I have to be at work by 11:30. So we have a small window of opportunity and we’re seizing it. Of course, since I normally wake up at nine, I had to get up at 7 to be able to go through my normal morning routine. Not a fan.
I can’t really think about anything other than work this morning, so I suppose I can write about that. I’m not really supposed to talk about it on social media, but let’s just say it’s a multi-billion dollar fast food chain. That’s just vague enough, right? Anyway, I’m a manager there and it sucks. It really does. My store manager is over-worked and kind of mean. But, you know, I get that it’s hard to be a female in a top management position when the directors of operation and the head of maintenance are all male. They expect her to be hard, because that’s what management is to them. But I feel like if she would be more vulnerable with the crew sometimes, they would respect her more. I know that as soon as she was more open with me and told me how much shit she gets from our directors of operation for caring as much about her crew as she does, I respected her a little more.
I’m really of the opinion that positive reinforcement is better than negative reinforcement. I don’t think you should bully people into doing better. They may perform better, but in the long-run, they’re going to feel spiteful. If you are using what we call effective criticism, then you are building people up in the same breath as you are saying they still have work to do. Why wouldn’t you choose that kind of criticism every time? What’s the negative side to that? And it can be hard, so hard, to do that instead of snapping at someone and saying they screwed it up. But just like everything else you have to learn to be a manager, it’s going to take practice and patience. I think it’s better for everyone, honestly.
Well, I have to get ready to do laundry. Until tomorrow.
In a similar vein to my last post, these are things that I wish someone had told me about being in your 20s when I was, oh, say 15.
- Life will get in the way of your plans. Nearly every time. Don’t ever stop planning, but be ready for an unexpected turn.
- Always get a copy of your lease and a receipt for any money you give to your landlord. Seriously. Always.
- It’s sometimes really hard to go to work. Go anyway. Being someone they can depend on is a good thing.
- On the other hand, don’t be afraid to call out (with enough warning) if you need a mental day. You will be able to get through the shorter pay check. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health.
- Don’t let people walk all over you. When people are taking up the whole sidewalk, don’t walk in the street. When they see you walking resolutely toward them, they will move. If they don’t, say excuse me.
- Take up exactly as much space as you need. Being a person gives you the right to exist in the world. But don’t forget that other people need space to take up as well.
- Don’t you ever, ever, be afraid to tell people what you think. At work, at home, in the store. If someone says something offensive, tell them. This will get easier the more you do it.
- As tempting as it may be, don’t try to reinvent yourself as a “real adult”. There is no such thing. Be a person. Be true to your ideals and your beliefs. This is what marks you as an adult.
- Don’t smoke. It’s bad for you and it’s really hard to kick.
- Spending money on things you need is not frivolous.
- Keep in touch with your friends. Set up coffee dates.
- Expect people to leave. You can’t all stay in the same city, or even the same state. People will move away. You will move away. Suddenly you will be in a city where none of your friends live. That’s okay. Make new ones.
- Finally, and most importantly, be kind. To yourself, to others, to the planet. This will make living a much easier task.
Dear Teen Eli,
Do you go by Eli yet? You might not. That’s okay.
I’m close enough to you right now to remember how you feel and think for the most part. Even if I couldn’t actually remember, you left enough evidence everywhere. You left it on your body and in notebooks and on scraps of paper that sometimes randomly resurface, as if by design. I will never regret the scars or the half-filled journals or the notes that cry out for help. I don’t want to come back and tell you that everything will be okay. Mostly because I know you’ll hate me for it like you hated everyone else who said it to you, but also because I know you know that it’s inevitable anyway. You’ve long known that everything will right itself in the end. You live by the family motto, “This too shall pass.” You write it on your arms, your pants, foggy car windows, any surface you can find. But I know how often you replaced “this” with “life”. I know you’ve thought that dying might be what rights everything in the end.
But I also know you make it. I know that through the years you’ve probably made as many poor choices and you did good ones. They aren’t things to regret, though. These are the stories that connect you to other people. These are the strands of your life that inexorably twist together to make the strength you cover yourself in now.
I don’t have much of a message for you. I just want you to know that I understand. You’ve always been afraid that when you grew up, you’d forget.
Well, you haven’t.
So this is a largely a way for me to work on my dedication to writing. I’m (hopefully) going to make myself sit down every day and write something. Anything. So these may be scattered and could easily be something that no one is interested in. That’s okay. I’m doing this for myself.
Off we go!