That’s Not the Rabbit Hole I’m Looking For

 

I have to admit…I don’t spend much of my time traveling down the rabbit hole that is the great and powerful Google search. When I search, I generally have a pretty clear idea what I want and what I am looking for. As unbelievable and unfathomable as it sounds, it’s the truth.

I search for things I like, I search for things I need, and I search for things I’m interested in and not much else. I find it excruciatingly difficult to not only search for, but also to read about something that I am not interested in. It is one of the things I most wish I could change about myself, but I have to be honest here.

320px-Down_the_Rabbit_Hole

When using the Research Guides from the University of Michigan library, I started out with the goal of just having fun, seeking out things I wouldn’t normally, and clicking on any link that tickled my fancy. The goal was not to hesitate, not to overthink, just to click.

Things didn’t go quite as expected. I managed to click without reluctance, but I found myself clicking back more often than not. And when I did go back, I was looking for something specific. As much as I wanted to let go and freefall into the rabbit hole, I couldn’t. By the end of the process, I was looking at every link in the long lists of options before selecting one, hoping to see one of the keywords in my mind. In the end, I didn’t find what I was looking for, but I did locate some incredible resources that are there if I need them. This just wasn’t quite the rabbit hole I was looking for.

But…I Meant to Fragment

I have a confession to make: I am in the midst of a love affair with the comma. I didn’t mean for it to happen, really. I didn’t even know it was going on until I was so deep in it I couldn’t stop. I cannot describe my love for the comma.

I should probably start by explaining my deepest desire: rhythmic writing. That being said, I need commas to direct my reader when to pause, to breathe, to take a half beat and bask in the lilting language. Now, I know that commas can become a crutch, and I fight that fight every day, but I refuse to give up what I have made with the comma.

Photo Credit: Denise Krebs

On the other hand, it comes to that moment, the moment when I want to put a period and know, according to “the rules” I must put a comma, the moment that makes my nose itch and my back twitch, the moment when grammar tells me I cannot start a sentence with “but.”I can still hear my elementary school teachers reciting their usual reminders, “We never, ever start sentences with ‘but’ or ‘because.'”

“But I need to!” I whine, to no one in particular, since the voice of grammar is only in my head, scolding me for such lazy linguistics.

Let’s face it, sometimes, a sentence just needs to start with “but.” I know that some of you reading this will shake your heads vigorously, crying out, “It isn’t so!” BUT…it’s the truth. When writing freely and rhythmically, in the voice of a person or a person’s consciousness, beginning with “but” is all that makes sense. When I fight my urge and follow the rule, I can imagine my character halting in his or her action¬† just long enough to look into the fourth dimension that is my vision of them and accuse me: “People don’t really talk like that. I’m the one talking, and I want to start my next sentence with but.”

This brings me to my next annoyance: the green squiggly grammar line in Microsoft Word telling me that I have created a fragment, my sentence is not complete. In fact, Spell Check, that sentence is complete. It is exactly how I wanted it.

Now, I admit, sometimes Word gets me out of some pretty embarrassing misadventures in writing. However, I have self-diagnosed my mild OCD, and I hate to see that little green line disrupting the serenity of my beautifully black and white page.

Fragment

What grammar rules can you not live without? What grammar rules irk you to your core?

Love You Always

Dear Nana and Papa,…

And so the letter went, the letter I wrote to my grandparents and mailed to them in Florida, where they live for the winter months, asking them for permission to read the letters they wrote to each other when my grandfather was in Vietnam. I grew up with my nana whispering the stories of their courtship in my ear as I fell asleep tucked soundly in bed between her and my papa. They met not long before he was shipped to Vietnam for duty. Throughout his entire service, they sent letters back and forth. When he returned home, they were married on New Year’s Eve in 1968.

With their permission, during Christmas break, my dad and I ascended into the attic above the garage and found the cardboard box tucked behind random pieces of furniture and remnants of obsolete technology stored away in a small closet in the corner. We slid out the box before returning everything to its original place. When I packed up my things to go back to Ann Arbor for winter semester, the box traveled with me. I drove with a piece of my family’s history tucked safely in my backseat.

For my repurposing project, I will be writing a few chapters of a much longer fictional piece, that I hope to complete in the Capstone course. I want to write a fictional story based on my grandparents. Their love has inspired me my entire life, and I want to honor them and also share their story.

While I was going through the box searching for the story, I found a small, black photo album. Inside were photographs of my papa in Vietnam that he sent home to my nana. On the back, was a little note, and at the end he had written, “Love You Always.”

Papa Sitting on His Bunker
Papa Sitting on His Bunker

 

Papa Posing for a Picture to Send Home
Papa Posing for a Picture to Send Home

Reading my grandparents’ letters, I am taken back in time. I get to know who they were before I was ever even thought of. Their letters are an inspiration to me, and from them, I want to create a story that is an inspiration to others.

 

 

Never Gets Old

There are some things I will just never get tired of:

 

I have seen every episode of the ten seasons of Friends so many times that I can quote every line, to the incredible annoyance of anyone watching with me. In fact, I watch the show so often that my roommate, who did not even know the names of the six main characters when we started living together, now sits beside me mouthing the words along with me. We even sing along to the theme song and clap four times on the da-da da-da. Don’t pretend you don’t do that too.

 

The vibration in my pocket that means I have a new text message. Vain? Maybe. But it’s the truth. It’s that simple signal, saying, “Someone is thinking of you!” Having been in a long distance relationship for about three of the five years my boyfriend and I have been together, that vibration is also a connection–most days, the only connection we get as we rush from class to work then club meetings. To my delight, I’ve felt the vibration through the wood of my desk three times as I’ve written this paragraph.

Oh, Netflix. My main source of distraction. The voice in my head that says, “You can write this blog post while you watch an episode of How I Met Your Mother.” I get ready in the morning with one eye on the mirror as I put on my make-up and one eye on my computer screen where Netflix is inevitably present. But in my defense, who doesn’t love Netflix?

 

Nana and Papa My phone rings–I’m still sleeping, I’m sitting in class, I’m eating–the most inopportune moments. It’s Nana and Papa calling from Florida, where they spend four months each winter away from their “grandbabies.”

“Hi, Breanna. It’s Nana,” she says, as though I may have forgotten her voice in her absence or my phone has forgotten her number. “And your Papa.” They are always driving somewhere–ceramics class, dinner with friends, the beach, the grocery store, art class, some other place with friends–talking over each other on the car phone. Nana reminds me that it is seventy degrees warmer where they are. We talk until they reach their destination, then she says, “Okay, honey, I’m gonna let you go. We are at Sarah’s house for a dinner party.” I smile as I hang up the phone. I miss them when they are gone.

 

I actually believe I could exist on pepperoni pizza alone. I would not hesitate to eat it for every meal every single day. It is my absolute favorite food, which is saying something, since I could count on both hands the number of foods I like. I’m a picky eater, but pizza defies the odds and comes in at #1. Pisanello’s, Hungry Howie’s, Marco’s, NYPD, South U, now I’m getting hungry.

 

 

I love looking through photo albums. Luckily, my mom used to be a super scrapbooker, so there are plenty of pictures of my brother and I when we were little. There’s first days of school, fun days at the lake, a plethora of Halloween costumes, the ever-embarassing bathtime shots, and a whole host of other wonderful childhood memories captured within the pages of old scrapbooks.

 

What do you never get tired of?

The Greatest Advice I Always Hoped I Would Get

I’ve always been a romantic, I thought, to a fault. But when reading To a Young Writer by Joyce Carol Oates, I found my validation. It was as if Oates reached into my essence, discovered all of my deepest doubts that echo in my mind telling me I can’t be a good writer the way I am, and then instructed me to be all the things I feared would hold me back.

“Write your heart out.”

Oh, those are the words of advice I have been longing to hear. To be told to write your heart out is so liberating. I have been given permission by a wonderful writer to write my heart out. To not hold back is frightening, but also so exciting! I want to be brave enough to scribble my soul onto the pages.

“Never be ashamed of your subject, and your passion for your subject.”

I can write about anything! I just have to put my passions to pages. Whatever I choose to write will be meaningful, because it means something to me. Maybe that is all that matters–at least, that is what matters most. I can write about love, about life, about the mundane, about the romantic, about…absolutely anything. The universe is my limit.

“Don’t live life in order to write about it since the ‘life’ so lived will be artificial and pointless.”

I’m a small town girl, and sometimes that feels like a curse to a writer. In such mundane existence, what could I possibly have to write about? The answer: anything. Writing enriches life, but an adventurous life does not equal exquisite writing. I don’t have to climb mountains or jump out of airplanes to be an interesting writer; though, maybe I will do all those things someday. The point is I don’t have to to be worthwhile.

“Don’t be ashamed of being an idealist, of being romantic and ‘yearning’.”

I am an idealist–moreover, I’m proud of my idealism. I like walking around with my head in the clouds, hoping to find the good in all things and in all people, dreaming with an open heart and an open mind. I like happy endings; in fact, I usually refuse to watch movies or read books I know will not have a happy ending. Of course, there are exceptions. I’m still a dreamer. I haven’t grown out of that, and I desperately hope I never do.

So take Joyce Carol Oates’ advice: Write your heart out.

 

What Do You Write For?

A longing.

A feeling in your stomach.

Words in your head.

A desire–to be heard, to be known.

But also a privacy: characters to hide behind, to know, to learn from, to create.

A belief.

People are good; life can be happy; beautiful love does exist; this world,

Though it doesn’t make sense,

Is spinning with a purpose.

You have a purpose:

TO WRITE

A world that is yours, but is more,

A world you wrote,

With words you wrote.

 

What do you write for?

Not Quite An Author Bio

 

The Author: Breanna Dey
The Author: Breanna Dey

Breanna Dey is a sister, a daughter, a girlfriend, a cousin, a friend, a student, a stylist, a smiler, a hummer, a dreamer, and a hopeless romantic. She is not a cook, a cleaner, a shopper, an artist, a poet, or a pessimist. She aspires to write words that make people feel deeply, and to avoid the comma splice and boring author bios. She lives in Ann Arbor, but she hopes to live all over the world. Someday she will.