Department of English

Fall 2007 Edition

Mind, Awakened

Thy Vu
Expressive 2010 1st Place
Professor: Julie Simon

"Perhaps for some of you here today, I am the face of one of your fears."
- Audre Lorde

Inspired by my thoughts, experiences, ideas, and memories, the collection of poems and stories that decorate the following pages are the precious elements of my mind. My work here is to explain the substance that lies within the mind, and to describe to you what questions, ideas, and thoughts provoke the activity of the mind. Hopefully, when you have finished reading and analyzing my collection, a little questioning will enter your system, and my goal of describing to you what makes up the mind will be reached.

Our minds begin as a shade of white; simple and pure. Day after day, our minds are filled with observations, ideas, thoughts, and questions. Each of these have a face, and that face is a color… the more vibrant the color, the more profound the thought. The smaller ideas and everyday observations still have a face, but the face is just a hue of color… not as profound, not as vibrant and vivid, but of course, that aspect is still of the mind. Similar to a rainbow, vibrant colors and dimmer hues lie within the mind, and no matter how vivid, all are just as valid. Knowledge has contrasting areas, some shady ones, and a few blended and even blurry ones… just like colors. It all depends on the eye of the beholder to understand an idea, and that idea will then process into the mind with a face, a face to be recognized further along the way if needed again. The understanding of ideas and being open to learn will help a person achieve the ultimate goal of having a colorful mind, which will help a person achieve a certain beauty: love, life, and growth.

My pieces in this collection will each be presented with a face, and of course, that face will be a color. Fill your mind with questions as you read on, trying to figure out what Red may mean to me, or Green or Violet. I start off the collection with a piece about a comfort food that I grew up with, simply because it explains a lot about my past and why I am who I am today. Another piece that I chose to include is a piece that captures my memories as a child, and again explains the reasons for my attachments now. I also chose to include a couple excerpts from my journal. Intrigue yourself, and fill your mind with ideas of your own. My work here is to describe to you what makes up a mind. Don’t be afraid to explore the unknown. Too many of us fear the truth, and fear the power of the mind. The mind of one person has the power to stir the hearts of society, and to fear that kind of power is to suppress the one thing that should be most cherished. Explore your mind and discover the colors that make your mind beautiful. The only mind I can explain to you is my own, and I may be the face of one of your fears because of the plethora of colors that make up my mind, but if your mind is filled with more color by the time you are finished exploring my mind, then my work here is done.

Red

The dinner table was never without the rice bowl centerpiece. Rice was a staple… a necessity. White grains, softened just enough to ease our chewing capability, but not too soft where it was more like a mashed potato dish. Rice kept our stomachs full on the days where we couldn’t decorate the plain white grains with other foods and seasonings due to a lack of grocery money. Although I understood the reason for our plain dinners was due to being poor, I was never melancholy. Digging my chopsticks within the many grains of rice was never an empty feeling, no matter how simple the rice really was. I was always satisfied, never disappointed. There were times when we had stir fry vegetables, seasoned to perfection, line the edges of our bowls. Rice was the perfect complement to anything. If done properly, rice can be turned into a dessert, or eaten plain with some soy sauce, made into a soup, and even turned into the infamous fried rice.

Pink

"Will you set the table? Napkins, chopsticks, and the small bowls." Of course I will. I always set the table. I always do what my parents ask. Setting each bowl down on the placemats to the rhythm of the growls in my stomach was always my favorite chore to do. It was a melody, pleasant to my mind, and satisfying to my stomach, for my stomach knew it was about to be fed. I walk over to the kitchen counter, and carefully place my small hands on either side of the large rice bowl, and carry it over to the dining room table, placing it gently in the center, where all our anxious hands can reach. "Thank you, Thy. We aren’t having any legumes tonight, just soy sauce, okay? But I have a Popsicle for you in the freezer for after dinner." My mom always knew how to keep me happy. My mom always knew the smallest things would keep me satisfied. My brother and I always had a deeper appreciation for the smaller things in life, simply for the reason that we didn’t have much. We cherished our books, and our colored pencils and paints. We never whined and yearned for more food, or asked for anything significant. We were simple.

Orange

I always like my big brother’s room
best
Late at night you can draw
and paint
and color
and not worry about making a mess
on the floor
and watch old movies
and stay up late and not worry
about Mom and Dad getting mad
When it is thundering outside
you can hide
and feel safe
and be warm
and be happy
all the time
even when Mom and Dad get mad
because we can play video games
and eat candy
and cookies
Even when we are tired
we dream
and we are warm

Orange – Yellow

Growing up ten years apart from my brother was not an ideal situation for me as a child. My memories of summer nights were always filled with the events that took place in his room. I always missed him during the day because he had a job and spent time with his friends. The time we spent together was always late at night when he would first step foot into the house. I would run downstairs into the basement with excitement glittering in my small beady eyes. My brother’s room served as a safe place for me because the room was filled with familiarity, and warmth that exuded from his heart.

Being an artist, my brother had every ideal art medium that I could dream of. I would create segments of my dreams alongside my best friend: my brother. He encouraged my creativity and never made me feel inferior. I always felt ten years older when I was with him. My parents would never be upset about my staying up late with my brother, so it was a worry far from my mind. There were never worries in my mind when I was in that magnificent room.

If I ever felt fear, pain, or sadness, I would flee to my brother’s room even when he wasn’t there. I could sense my brother in every aspect of his room, and that alone, calmed my nerves. I always felt safe there; never out of place or not welcome. When it rained outside and the thunder clapped near my upstairs bedroom window, I would quickly flee downstairs and take refuge under the covers of my brother’s bed. I was always happy there. I did whatever I wanted, laughed as loud as wanted and felt warm… just like I wanted.

There was never a moment that I didn’t enjoy in that room. A sense of security overwhelmed my soul, and when my brother and I would grow tired our adventures would never come to a cease. We would lie together, and he would tell me stories until I fell into a nearly lucid dream. I was warm. I was always warm.

Yellow – Orange

My mind numbed as my hands reached. It used to be enough. My eyes cloud up as the fog of your breath settles in. I tried so hard to keep you out... the drops seep in, the drops seep in. After a moment, a haze comes through... pains my sight, and pains my soul. The haze is thick. The haze is brutal. It spoils my world and the substance within it. The deafening haze finds a deep way through, and takes grasp of my breath. The grip is unbearable. I withstand it for only so long. The effluvial possession of my life is on fire. The timbers within my world fall. All that is left of an engaging, serendipitous, galactic whole is now a pile of forgotten ashes. The wind will come, and none will remember. The wind will come, and none will care. The emotions that stir within the heart take tide as the ocean loses its sunshine and regains its mischievous moon. Pulsate. Pulsate. Pulsate.

Yellow

I want this, everyone else has this. “Do you have to be like everyone else?” I guess not. “Don’t eat that, it’s fattening.” I won’t. “Have you exercised today? What did you do? Did you run? Do crunches?” Yes, you asked me already. “Remember to eat more vegetables.” I know. “You know, I love you.” I love you too. “Don’t date just one person, date a lot of people.” That’s not my style. “Don’t do that, nobody else would.” I thought you didn’t want me to be like everyone else. “Drink more water, it flushes your system. Be aware of sodium, it makes you retain water. Don’t eat anything fattening.” I do drink a lot of water, I am aware of sodium, and I never eat anything fattening. “If you don’t keep thin, nobody will want you to model anymore.” I am aware of this. “You better get good grades.” I do. “You don’t try hard enough, otherwise you’d do better.” I’m sorry. “How much water have you drunk today?” Haven’t we talked about this already? “College isn’t easy like high school, you need to try harder. It’s a lot different.” I know. I’m the one that is attending, not you. “How many hours are you working a week?” I work enough hours to get me by. “You need to work more because you spend a lot.” I don’t spend half as much as the other people I know. “Oh so you’re like everyone else?” I guess not. “You care too much about your appearance. You care too much about what other people think.” It’s a curse. “You need to study more. Remember to drink more water and eat healthy. Have you taken all your vitamins today?” I do drink water. I do eat healthy. I have taken all my vitamins today. “You live on your own now so I’m not around to remind you to do all these things.” Thank God. “What do you spend all your money on?” Why does it matter? “You live on your own now, you need to save and spend wisely.”  I know this. I know all of this. “How many hours do you work in a week?” I work as much as I can. “You shouldn’t work too much, you won’t have time to study and your grades will show for it.” I thought you wanted me to work more. “You know, I love you.” I love you too. “I didn’t notice you working out this morning.” You weren’t home when I was working out.”I don’t believe you.” You never do. “Drive safely and don’t talk to strangers.” I never talk to strangers. I never have. “Why can’t you just listen to me without arguing?” I listen too much. “Have you done your homework yet?” Yes, I did it earlier. “Wake up, why do you sleep all day?” I am exhausted. I am tired of everything. “What do you do to be tired? You don’t do anything.” Of course you’d think that. “Why don’t you eat?” I’m not hungry. “Eat some food, you’re too skinny.” I’m not hungry. “Have you practiced piano yet today?” I practice every day. “Play your scales and your major and minor chords. You have a competition coming up, and you need to do well.” I win every year. I practice every day. I know my scales and chords. “There is always more practice to be done.” You’re trying to live your dream through me. “Why didn’t you finish your dinner?” I’m not hungry. “Don’t starve yourself just because you have a photo shoot.” Just leave me alone. Let me be. “Have you done your homework yet?” I do my homework every day. You don’t have to remind me. You always remind me of things I have already done. “I love you very much.” I love you too. “Why do you read all day? Why don’t you do something active?” You wouldn’t understand. Reading is my escape. “Why don’t you go hang out with friends more often?” I stay here, for you. “High school is your chance to spend time with friends. There won’t be time for that in college.” I don’t want to do anything. Nobody is interesting. I would rather read. “You need to eat more. You are too thin. People will think you are malnourished and that I don’t take care of you.” Who cares what people think? “Have you done your homework?” No. I want to hang out with my friends today. “If you don’t get into good study habits, high school will be hard for you.” My classes are easy. I don’t have anything to do. “You don’t study enough. You won’t do well in high school, and if you don’t do well in high school you will never get into college.” I’m smart. I will do well in high school, and I will get into college. “You won’t if you don’t study and do your homework.” Don’t worry. I’ll be fine. “Will you help me with the dishes?” Of course! “Will you mop the floors?” Yes. “Help us with the cleaning and then you can go out and play.” It’s a deal! “Have you practiced piano yet?” No, I don’t want to. I hate the piano. I want to quit. “You’ll regret it if you quit. Practice piano every day.” Fine, I won’t argue with you. “If you don’t practice you’ll never be good. I want you to be able to play certain things by the time you’re 16. They are very advanced. I want you to be able to do it.” I’ll practice if I can go play with my friends afterwards. “Is that all you care about? Playing?” I’m a kid. What else am I supposed to care about?

Light Green

Paper airplanes never know where they are headed, but never care. Each fold in a paper airplane is much different than the last… making each and every airplane unique in itself. Paper airplanes can go anywhere, reach anything, see any sight and not be afraid. I am a paper airplane. Carefully put together by the hands of those who love me, and headed… where? I’m not sure. The difference is, while a paper airplane has no fear… I have fear. I have no idea where I am headed. What for. To see whom. Or anything. I am terrified of making new creases, because I’m not sure if those will be the right ones to make in order to complete who I am, to build my substance. I’m not sure if these new creases I want to make are going to make me fly higher, better, and more smoothly or if they are going to cause me to fly crooked, jaggedly, roughly, and somewhere along the line eventually crash.

Green

It might interest you to know,
Speaking of the plentiful imagery of the world,
That I am the sound of water dripping from the faucet.
I also happen to be the dining room table,
The clock ticking in the living room,
And the jug of milk chilling in the fridge.
I am also the dream in your sleep
And the blanket that covers you at night.
But don’t worry, I am not the bread and the knife.
You are still the bread and the knife.
You will always be the bread and the knife,
Not to mention the crystal goblet and – somehow – the wine.

Baby Blue

I’ve come to realize that time cannot protect me any longer. I’ve always had the endurance of my youth to hide behind, but my days are accumulating behind me, and the opportunity for me to make a difference in my life is marching in by the minute. I haven’t done a single thing that is worthy of the time I have consumed during my life. I have finally found the light that is trying to guide me out of the hole I have buried for myself.

Blue

As I arise in the morning, the symbol of femininity that lies across my scalp is a tattered mess from being pressed one way, and turned another, as a result of the force of droopy night lids. I walk over to the magic chest of powders, potions, and instruments of beauty. Facing myself, I take my cold hand and run my dainty fingers through the soft strands that cover my lonely scalp. I begin with a perfectly pigmented powder and brush it across the fatigued visage and finish with a rose-colored splash to liven myself up. I take a long, black, plastic stick with small plastic pins striking out from one end and pull it through the scalp coverings. I clamp my femininity between two hot plates to smooth the kinks that are a result of my droopy night lids. I spray it with a magical serum to keep it straight and voluminous. All of these steps seem so unnecessary, but crucial at the same time. I take out a potion, a thick one, a black one. I cover a bristled wand with this thick, black potion and run them across the protectors of the eyes smoothly and slowly. The protectors become fierce. The protectors are enticing. Powders, potions, serums, and clamps create a different visage; a visage more pleasing to the eye… a visage ready to face the day.

Indigo

One’s understanding and perception of the world is so genuine that those words can never be duplicated, but ought to be shared. Reading stories, novels, essays, and poems aids me in discovering more about myself.

Why write? Write to share. Write to explain. Write to get all those vibrant thoughts on paper. Write to review your life. Write to capture a memory, so that in later years you can look back and feel the emotions that overwhelmed your body. There is no right or wrong way to tell a story. The context and grammar, whether correct or incorrect is a part of the art of writing. Writing is an art, and in writing our voices shine through. Our minds shine through. Even though some minds are black and white, that darkness will shine through in writing. Without a doubt, someone will gain insight from reading. In order to read, there has to be something written. Writers combine their creativity with their innermost feelings to create beautiful masterpieces. There is so much to learn, and reading has always been and always will be the ultimate learning skill. Our hearts and minds aren’t designed to be open to new ideas, but if one can learn to be accepting and inhale the ideas of others, one can add a little bit of color to their mind.

Violet
I once asked my cousin whom was also my best friend at the time if she has ever looked in the mirror or down at her body and skin, and the overwhelming sense of being a human being takes her over. She looked at me as if I was completely insane, and at the time I thought maybe I was. I then realized that she simply didn’t care to think. She is so disconnected from everything that isn’t a material possession. I believe that was the day I realized we were very different and I couldn’t trust her with my thoughts or feelings.

It is heart-breaking, really, when you realize that the person you thought was your dearest friend is now a person you don’t respect. This person will never understand you or any of the things you think about. What is even more heart-breaking is that this person doesn’t care to.

We all know that materialism is nothing. We all know that it all means nothing. We know that all the materialism, the fame, the popularity… it all means nothing in the end. Yet, we are still consumers. We still find ourselves lusting over ridiculous possessions that others have. Sadly, for many, that is the driving force to go to school and get an education. Many people don’t care about enriching their minds, and they possibly graduate even less intelligent than they were from the beginning. Why? Simply because these people don’t think for themselves. These students graduate and they are our lawyers, our doctors, and our teachers. They buy nice homes, and they have what they want materially, but they are still unhappy, just like “we” are.

I sit in class while others talk, and it makes me sad because they are speaking, but are saying nothing. Of course, there are many ideas that go on under the surface, but all these people look and sound the same to me, and it makes me sad that these are going to be my colleagues, my friends, and my children’s teachers. It makes me sad that we have become so separate from ourselves. We have let greed overcome us, and we do horrible and atrocious things to obtain what we want. We let fame and popularity dictate our lives and “who we are,” and we allow other’s thoughts to determine many of the actions that we make. It is all so sad when you look at the situation from a faraway glance. All these people, all the same.

I wonder what happened to people like my cousin; people who show a minimum amount of compassion and have nothing in their minds to differentiate themselves from everyone else. Sometimes I listen as my cousin speaks, and she gets frustrated, and she says things that make me hope that there is a possibility that she wants to expand her mind and her heart, learn and grow, but she never does. She is stuck in that constant state of frustration. She is not happy. She has never earned a dime in her life and whenever it comes out that perhaps she should, she winds up spending her money on useless things. My cousin always wants more. She finds all the things that are missing, and she wants more. She wants and wants and it never ends. She is going to die wanting, and she’ll never be content. I never want to die wanting. I want to die knowing that I spent every moment of my life fulfilled, not empty.

We all just want so badly to love each other that where love doesn’t exist we create the illusion of love. Some people want love so badly that they lay themselves all about town trying to find it, only to go to sleep at night feeling lonelier than ever, and lonelier than anyone. Why? A person shouldn’t seek comfort in somebody else, but within the heart and mind. Some people stay with the same person day after day hoping to feel something and never do. These people stay there because it’s safe, and it’s comfortable. They know there will always be someone there to come home to and it brings them a sense of security. Their whole lives they will wonder if this is really the great love that everyone talks about, and when they die they will know that it wasn’t. They will have wasted their entire lives. All this can happen simply because someone wasn’t true, and got mixed up into superficial world. The want will take over.

Some people don’t lay themselves all about town trying to find security, some people don’t stay in relationships to find it either. These people simply don’t know what to cherish. These people don’t cherish the one thing that would have gotten them through their life somewhat smoothly, their mind. The mind is the most important tool of any human being. Cherish it. Use it. Fill it with questions, and fill it with answers. The mind of one person has enough power to touch the tortured souls of the world. The mind has infinite powers.

People have let themselves become so disconnected with reality that materialism gets the better of them. Know who you are, and cherish that. Don’t let people tell you otherwise. Learn something. Love someone. Love yourself. Most of all, love your mind. Don’t destroy it with superficiality and hatred. Don’t destroy it with greed. Don’t pollute your mind with ugly aspects. Your mind is the most natural thing that has powers over every facet of life. Fill your mind with beauty, love, and kindness. Share your thoughts with others, because you may shake their core and change their lives. Share your thoughts with others because only then, will you be able to fully understand yourself. In the end, you and your mind are all that is left. In the end, your mind is the key to happiness.