hello, stranger

Thought I'd stop in and share my current blog, just for anyone who'd like to see the progression of my mind.


mount pleasant, pennsylvania

I'm home.
That makes 12 days now.  I needed time before I told you, because I myself wasn't even sure how to handle it, how to explain the feeling.

My last days in Belgium passed by slowly.  I'd never felt as if I wanted to go home until the end, until most of my friends were already gone and I felt like it was time to begin the summer.  I felt sick with goodbyes, and wanted nothing but the last to finally say hello.

Nonetheless, there were some highlights in my final weeks, such as a trip to Amsterdam with my host family

 and a trip to a concentration camp in Belgium named Breedonk.

I felt kind of emotionless at the airport as I left; it seemed as if my excitement and sadness canceled eachother out.  I had accepted the end of my Belgian adventure, and I was ready to come home to begin another one. 
I was expecting myself to feel something, to cry, to run up to my friends and lift them in the air as I finally arrived in the Pittsburgh airport, but after about 4 hours of delays, I saw everyone and simply felt like I'd seen them the day before. I felt like I never left, as if Belgium was nothing but a vivid dream I had on the plane and I was returning from a week vacation. At the sight of my mother, my sisters, my best friends, I just stood there without any strong feelings.  Nothing seemed to have changed; I was dropped right back into the world I had left eleven months before.  Was it really eleven months?

The night of my arrival, my friends and I stayed up until 5am American time (11am Belgian time) talking about the year that had passed, taking midnight trips to Walmart, eating all the foods I'd missed at absurd hours (absurd to Europeans at least), and laughing.  That night, I got along with them all as I always had, as if nothing had changed, and it stayed that way for the week that followed. 

Not until recently have I realized that my relationships with my best friends here are more like sisterly relationships.  I'm with them out of habit, not necessarily out of choice.  I got along so well with my friends in Belgium, my exchange student friends.  They have a part of me with them; they've watched me grow and taught me who I am.  I never fought with them; I never tried with them.  We all just fit, fit so perfectly since we saw the world in the same way; we felt the world in the same way.

It's not that I'm unhappy, but I'm not completely content, not until I find those friends again, those friends to show me inspiration and make me smile.  I think I'm on the right track though.  I've realized that there are a lot of people who have changed in the past year in the same way I have, which gives me hope.  I get along with people now that I never really had before, and it's kind of opening my eyes.  There are so many people, so many opinions, so many outlooks on life that I never had paid attention to before, and now I'm beginning to learn so much.  To think I felt as if I was open-minded before I left surprises me; I speak with the people who I had shared opinions with, and I find them close-minded.

Slowly I'm beginning to realize how much I've changed, and how much more confident I feel with myself now that I've changed.

Constantly I say that I left the US as an exchange student, and I came back as Jordann.
It couldn't be more true.  I never had a name before; I was only caught up in what I wanted to be, but now I simply am.
In truth, it's liberating. 
I am able to see, breathe, feel.   

Have you ever stood on top of a mountain as the sun shines or sets or rises while the wind is breathing around you?  When you can lean out over the edge and feel the wind, the world embrace you?  You can let go of yourself, and the surrounding beauty seems to keep you standing.  That feeling, that's how I feel everyday.  I don't need to worry about keeping myself standing, because I see the world around me, its simple beauties, and I know it will never let me fall.
If you've never felt it, go climb a mountain, or at least a high hill, and feel it.  Please feel it, because that's life.  Or at least the life I know, and I love him. 
Maybe you'll love him, too.

and give to you my colours bright.

A week ago, I scribbled my name on the Berlin wall (or at least what remains of it).

The East Side Gallery: A section of the Berlin wall that is about a
kilometer long and stands as one of the largest open-air galleries of today,
consisting of about 100 paintings created by artists from around the world.
The artwork revolves around many themes such as one's basic right to freedom
 and the hope of a peaceful future for all of the world's people.  
For two days, my friend Breanna and I explored Berlin, a trip we had planned ourselves
(with help of the National Geographic travel guide) as a closure to our year in Europe.
I truly loved the ambience of the city:  we didn't feel the rushed, New York hustle and bustle like I had expected, but rather a relaxed, laid-back atmosphere that was also young and energized.  To me, it felt like a college town rather than one of the world's most historic cities (nonetheless it is home to Humboldt University, a school that Karl Marx, Albert Einstein, and Otto von Bismark had attended among many other remarkable men).

Holocaust Memorial: 2,711 concrete blocks which
aim to represent an ordered system that has lost touch
with reason, such as was witnessed during the Holocaust.

The Reichstag

The Brandenburg Gate

Checkpoint Charlie: One of the best known crossing points between East and West Berlin
 during the Cold War.  This was the sole crossing point for both foreigners and Allied forces.

Humboldt University of Berlin

I only have more 9 more days, and then I have to wake up.
Happy 4th of July.

PS: Today I went to the Lion of Waterloo and toured around the battlefield where Napolean was defeated (practically where I've been living my entire exchange) to display my patriotism.
Yes, I know, there's absolutely no correlation whatsoever.. It was the English who defeated Napolean, not the Americans. But hey, at least I kind of celebrated an important battle.  That has to count for something.  

midnight's cigarette.

And tomorrow,
our laughter will be the music I long to hear.

Chimay's beat so undefined, our hair interwined,
blonde and brown and natural,
dangling from the wooden heights of
our abandoned train tressle.

We feel our naked feet beneath us
in the cold, moonlit current,
dancing in the milkyway.

My toes, they're laughing, as they play
hide and seek
in these weeds we would never know
as nothing but our beauty.

The cool, damp earth
runs below us,
it's running to the sun.
But we stand still and watch the moon,
how is it that he's smiling?
He'll leave us soon, as will we,
we'll leave,
but we refuse to move.

And then the earth,
she shakes beneath our muddy toes.
A hand he grasps one the other,
our fingers tangle, intertwine.
And then the earth,
she overturns and casts us into the sky.

We are scared,
and we try to hold on,
but we know we can not
as we free-fall in the stars.

The sky, he takes me,
and I lose you.

He takes me home.

only muddy toes and the milkyway.

One of my many intentions while here in Belgium was to write a lyrical essay as I experienced my exchange.  It was a style of prose I was introduced to at the Young Writer's Institute the summer before I came, and I've loved it ever since.  Essentially (at least in my definition), a lyrical essay is an ensemble of poetry which revolves around a certain theme or is written during a set period of time.  It may be surrealist and appear to make no sense at all, or it may be very descriptive and appeal to all the senses; it simply depends on the style of the writer, as does any style of prose.

I never truly began to write with intent to finally make the essay, which explains the lack of correlation between the poetry that I've written here.  Instead, I simply wrote to express myself (like always) in a notebook that I constantly carried with me, and this is the collection of some of that poetry, month by month, in my own kind of lyrical essay. 

Don't worry if you don't understand; most of the time I don't even know what or how I'm writing.  It's the beauty of surrealism and the subconscious of a higher reality.

if i discovered the world, i would have thought this was the end of it.
clouds melting into ice, ice melting into rays of white,
a puddle of mid-winter familiar to the trod of thick-soled boots.
plastic window at my fingertips blinds me but to a
wrinkled smile of recent laughter
asking me, "what do you want to be?"
i don't know, nor do i know the you
"youth never will. 74 years still haven't given me the answer."

comment dit-on life en français? c'est la vie.
try to speak words, but only stuttered incongruencies.
see those eyes they dream,
as she melts the chocolat by minuit
avec ségolène.

minutes hide behind familiar words,
their bloodshot eyes blind to learning.
help me! aidez-moi!
mais pourquoi? the mirror's lips only whisper secrets.

ten days and only twelve faces.  elle se moque de toi.
and i whistled in the rain.

with you, i want an adventure.
i know of sweaty hands who feared they'd lose their grasp,
grasp of what they'd already captured:
a submissive firefly in a cupped-hand cage, glowing only to be his light.

dreams, or rather hopeful predictions
of swimming pools in the rainy snow,
sheltered by the ceiling. darkness embraced by walls,
disrupted by a smile- two smiles.
water blurs my view and is in my nose,
but i feel a hand which takes my fingers captive,
puts them in straight jackets,
otherwise they'll go astray, in thought
and in movement
from here.

four legs propelling, treading upwards.
feet clumsily make the next, first, bad impressions
as chlorine fights our drowning seconds.
and we pause the film and drown with them,
take this picture as the last.
breathe in, and satisfy the thirst of lungs.

but as lips part they are met by others
and everything and nothing is lost.

listen to only words
lost in the laughter the pen writes,
the footprint stays.
he stays to remind me,
rappelle-moi, j'ai oublié
how to speak, how to sing.
is this rambling? je dévaugue.
peut-etre. or maybe?

crowded train station with a toilet paper tree.
benches full of eyes watching her read,
i'm reading
is this rambling?

mi chiamo jordanna
sono l'amica di sabina
sono americana
parlo inglese e francese

i came here with a hug and two kissed cheeks.
an artist told me
i was an artist, in english
now useless but always used.
how do i feel?

est-ce que tu crois que
i laugh to be heard
and then run from those who hear?

est-ce que tu crois que
je crois que
i don't know what it is to believe?

fallen leaves in disguise of winter
still crumble.
sa beauté s'est fanée.

i used to look through the train's window,
seeing open fields interrupted by a cobblestone
road, harsh to my clenched hands and tires of my bike.
seeing "linkebeek" graffitied in green,
words i can not comprehend-
only colors.

i'd feel the trembling of the train
as he passed another;
his strength rendered weak by an attraction
of what he would be, of what he would say.
a force of fear and desire, aimless adventure.

he knew me, he spoke me-
a language i did not know.

bent comb bristles smile
like my mirror's crooked teeth
tangled by intent to defy a childhood
ashamed of natural tendency,
drowned in tear-free
strawberry scented spray
from something like a fish.
these bristles bend to free
what is now creation.

braided history, its sunshine
reflects against her sticky sunglasses.

cobblestones, they gleam,
here is my skin for you, soleil,
burn it, beauty it.
leave my lonely shoulders

une heure fanée, injectée à mon sang.
ce poison est venu de ses yeux,
ses paroles de silence.

the sea paints me
with his broken colors,
fragility i crush in my palm.
i am a canvas,
your canvas,
create me with sand between my toes.

the sun's yesterday
moves in monochrome
ever-changing, but not in color.
i am a shadow,
your shadow,
leave me
where we wild as grass may grow.

we move in phases
of playlists, preferred particularity.
we are nowhere, and she smiles
follow me, let you down
yet it creates, transcending these
inverities of her rusted,
metal reminissions.
to liberate, to set to fail
or someone like vitalogy,
a mirrored indifference to august
and everything after
yourself or something like it.

i see my yellowed fingers
an unlit cigarette.
i will inhale your words,
let them rest in my rusted lungs to then
exhale clouded Tuesday morning skies
who dare cover my sun.

this is the imagery of sin,
hiding behind my bitten, stuttered lip. 

barefoot, painting with naked colors stolen from the moon.
we are an empty canvas,
wasting to read poetry scribbled under our skin,
skin not yet immune to her sting,
stinging lil.

and we laugh,
and freedom takes the world 
between her fingertips.
breaks the flower's withered stem,
a flower of beginning's end,
yanks it from this warren soil,
and oh! how we are laughing still.

we feel her exhale,
and we exhale,
and the wish and the world is gone
and we are dancing in the wind.

we will never know.
only muddy toes and the milkyway.

as promised, if you've read.

Passing Stranger by Walt Whitman
(Read it aloud to feel it.)

PASSING Stranger! you do not know how longingly I look upon you,
You must be he I was seeking, or she I was seeking, (it comes to me as of a dream,)
I have somewhere surely lived a life of joy with you,
All is recall’d as we flit by each other, fluid, affectionate, chaste, matured,
You grew up with me, were a boy with me or a girl with me,
I ate with you and slept with you, your body has become not yours
only nor left my body mine only,
You give me the pleasure of your eyes, face, flesh, as we pass, you take
of my beard, breast, hands, in return,
I am not to speak to you, I am to think of you when I sit alone or wake
at night alone,
I am to wait, I do not doubt I am to meet you again,
I am to see to it that I do not lose you.
Le bois amical de Paul Valéry

Nous avons pensé des choses pures
Côte à côte, le long des chemins,
Nous nous sommes tenus par les mains
Sans dire... parmi les fleurs obscures ;

Nous marchions comme des fiancés
Seuls, dans la nuit verte des prairies ;
Nous partagions ce fruit de féeries
La lune amicale aux insensés

Et puis, nous sommes morts sur la mousse,
Très loin, tout seuls parmi l’ombre douce
De ce bois intime et murmurant ;

Et là-haut, dans la lumière immense,
Nous nous sommes trouvés en pleurant
Ô mon cher compagnon de silence !

Chanson d'automne de Paul Verlaine
(One of my favorite French poets.)

Les sanglots longs
Des violons
De l'automne
Blessent mon coeur
D'une langueur

Tout suffocant
Et blême, quand
Sonne l'heure,
Je me souviens
Des jours anciens
Et je pleure

Et je m'en vais
Au vent mauvais
Qui m'emporte
Deçà, delà,
Pareil à la
Feuille morte.

perspicacious diversions.

For my French class, I had to compose with a partner an anthology of six poems that we later had to present to our class in an original presentation.  My partner and I decided to stage a piece of "theater" for our presentation in which I was an American living in Belgium for a year (no kidding!) who had met a Belgian and fallen in love. 

Yes, I know,  it simply screams creativity.

(Here may I add my observation that Belgians, or at least those in my class, are seemingly incapable to think "outside of the box".  The majority of them had difficulties grasping the concepts of metaphors, symbols, and allegories- all of which had been introduced to them this year. 

For example, as we were reading Edgar Allen Poe's "The Masque of the Red Death", I had noticed that the seven rooms in Prospero's palace were placed from east to west, the easternmost being the blue room (symbolizing birth, the beginning of life) and the westernmost being the black and blood red room (obviously symbolizing death).  I remarked that I loved the little detail that the rooms were placed from east to west to emphasize the symbolism since the sun rises in the east (sunrise represents beginning/birth) and sets in the west (sunset represents end/death), and  I had simply made the remark in order to give credit to the genius of Mr. Poe (as he is an American). But instead my classmates gave me all the glory, as if I were the one to write it.  I didn't write it, I simply analyzed- a simple analyzation that I'm sure most of my classmates in the US would have made right away.

Due to this,  I now crave more than ever to be intellectually challenged.  I want to surround myself with people who love to learn and with whom I can discuss life, religion, politics, and cultures.  I need to surround myself with motivated people- people who want to be, need to be challenged as much as I do.  The problem is that my school in Belgium is densely populated with slackers.  It's a "technical" school:  it was originally created for students who didn't plan to go to college after high school, but now it's more or less for people who want to follow either a very specific option (such as Science or Economics) or a unique option (Athleticism or Cuisine),  or it's for those who are having trouble in other schools and want either (a) a smaller school or (b) a school where it's much easier to slack off.

Therefore, there are a lot of students who just don't try- or at least it seems to me that they go to school with their brains shut off.  I can see the potential in these students, as they do well when they apply themselves, but they just don't try.  They don't want to learn; they're going to school to go to school: to memorize for the test, take the test, and forget.  Of course, in the United States there are a lot of students like this as well, but I just usually don't have classes with them.  Though now I've been going to school with students of the sort for a year, and the lack of motivation that they bring to the classroom is contagious.  As an exchange student, I had put myself at their level.  I had told myself it was all right that I scored badly because everyone else had.  It was all right that I hadn't done the "homework" because no one else had.  It was all right that I hadn't tried because no one else had even wanted to try.

But then I began to truly be able to work in French.  I could understand everything (and if not I always had my handy-dandy dictionary); I could write; I could read. And then I realized the absence of motivation in the classroom, and I began to crave it.

Therefore, I can say that when I became fluent in French, I began to miss school in the US.  I felt like there was something I was missing- I wanted to, needed to learn more.  By learning French, I had always been fed with knowledge- my hunger was constantly satisfied.  Though when I began to learn less of French as I had known the language, my apetite- even larger than it was before- could not be appeased. 

I began raiding the cupboards, leaving the refridgerator door hanging wide open in search for anything to fill my stomach, empty and constantly rumbling.  I bit into literature, gnawing away at it slowly so that each tastebud could learn a new word, a new taste.  I read and read, but I needed more.  I realized I needed other people with whom I could discuss what I'd read.  I wanted a classroom and opinions, hands flying into the air to open other's eyes by sharing what had been seen.

This then leads me to yet another example:  for my French class I read Servitude et Grandeur Militaires de Alfred de Vigny, a Romantic writer of the 19th century.  In the final recollections of the book, Vigny concludes that soldiers fight and die with little thought of God for they ultimately follow a different "God" which is Honor.  He goes on to say that Honor is the virtue of the life of this world, that it is a guiding light which leads one to the Good, the True, and the Beautiful.  Always and everywhere it maintains in all its beauty the individual dignity of man:  it is manly decency.  In the end, he feels that Honor should always possess such power and such beauty, and he hopes that no religion will try to suppress the sentiment.

While reading this, I couldn't help but to think of Al Qaida and other extremist groups and the fact that they have nearly the same beliefs as Vigny.  Of course, they don't follow the "religion" of Honor, but instead they abide by Honor in practice of their religion or ideology.  Vigny believes that honor is manly decency; therefore he believes himself to be decent as he abides by honor.  In the same sense, members of Al Qaida believe they are decent for they also submit themselves to honor.  However, the honor of Vigny has not the same meaning as the honor of extremists, and this displays a way in which our society has changed since the 19th century due to racial and religious separations.  Vigny hopes that no religion will try to suppress the sentiment of honor, but what he should in fact hope is that no religion should alter the definiton of honor.

Nonetheless, as I read, I wanted more than anything to express these ideas with the class, have a group discussion where we could exchange point of views and opinions.   I wanted to be in my school in the US, or at least any school that challenged me.

I've now realized how much I've digressed.. Did you realize this was all in parenthesis?  Well with that said I'm getting off this train and hopping onto the right one.  Parenthèses terminées! )

So my Belgian friend and I acted out our presentation, for which I had to memorize three poems that I would like to share here (which was my primary objective for writing this post).  But I'm going to post them after this or else this is going to be horrifically long...  I'd be surprised if there's actually someone still reading this.  (Click the smiley face below if you are, just to satiate my curiosity.) 
The presentation turned out really great by the way.  I'd never realized how much I liked acting, or rather just making everyone laugh.
Exactly what I'm not doing at this point in time,
alors je suis partie! 

this is a blog

that you may find profound, deviant, or insipid.

It may teach you, inspire you and leave you lost in thought; or it may bore you and cause your eyes to drag slowly shut.

You may read it for an hour, or maybe not at all.

Maybe you'll get to know me, maybe in ways I don't even know me.

I left the United States in August 2010 as a Rotary exchange student. I'll leave Belgium in July 2011 as Jordann.

about me

My photo
Braine-l'Alleud, Belgium
I follow the sun.