Discussion #1: Glazed Eyes

First of all, let me say thank you to all of you who took the time to read and respond to my post last week. It was hard to stay away and not respond to each of you in some manner, but I had said that I would sit back and simply watch what happened. I really did want to see if this was a good, bad, or just a so-so idea. I was more than gratified to see that it might be a good idea after all.

As you can see, I changed the Home page and got rid of the sidebar I had up here. I will list the discussions on that sidebar space after initiating them here and leaving them up for the week. That will give you plenty of time to respond as much, or as often, as you like to any one topic.

As far as topics go, I will introduce them here, on the home page, and then the rest is up to you. If you don’t like the topic, but want to discuss, or simply vent, on some other issue, please feel free to do so, always keeping in mind that this is a public space and may be read by many.

This is a whole new role for me, so if I do something that anyone objects to, please let me know, kindly of course, lol. I can be just as stubborn and bull-headed as the next person, but given a bit of time, I’ve been known to learn, change my mind, or just plain shut-up. Depends on just how important the issue is to me personally. But then, I would think that most of you are the same.

Paula brought up this week’s topic: Glazed Eyes. We’ve all been there, we have all encountered that reality on some level. We aren’t alone, but it certainly feels very lonely when it happens. It can feel like instant exile, isolation, or that you have just committed the gaffe of the century, and done that in some public place, shame on you.

I’m going to tell you of a personal experience. It happened about a year and a half ago. I had been invited to dinner at my sister’s home. Two couples had been invited as well. I had met these people on other occasions, so they weren’t complete strangers. But, I had not been with them in such a small social grouping ever before. They knew I was their hostess’s sister, recently moved back to the area and not much more than that.

We were seated at the dining room table, enjoying a wonderful dinner, with some easy chatting going on, brief anecdotal stories all pertaining to the same subject. I happened to mention something that had happened when I was in college. Both of the male guests seemed to perk up at the mention of College. I was asked where I attended school and what I had majored in.

Briefly explaining that I had done two majors: one in History, and another in English with a writing concentration, I was surprised at the sudden focused attention on my person by both of the men. It was a bit like I had suddenly become an individual right there in that moment. One of them asked what I do for a living.

I responded by saying I was retired on disability, but had taught for ten years before that. What had I taught? I explained that I had been a free-lance Writing Instructor, teaching in Fine Art Schools and in two of the colleges in the area where I had formerly lived. Had I ever been published as a writer? Yes, in small presses, some major ones, and had also had a monthly column of my own in a local magazine for a couple of years. Had I ever published a book, something they might have read?

Yes, I had a few chapbooks of poetry published, and had gotten some acclaim when one of my poems anchored an anthology that was later nominated for a Grammy Award because it had been turned into a set of audio cassettes, read by well-known actors and actresses. Well, what did I do with my time, now that I was retired?

I spend a lot of my time on my computer, writing. A book, perhaps? No. I run four blogs: two for poetry, two for prose. The gentleman sitting next to me honed in, and asked if I actually got paid for that. I said that I do it because I love doing it. He asked again, if I got paid for any of it. I said, “No, I love to write and it is an immediate outlet for that drive.” He said, “Oh, it’s nothing more than a hobby, then.” Turned his shoulder to me and asked the other gentleman what he thought about last week’s football game.

End of discussion, I stopped existing, as quickly as I had come to light. Neither man spoke to me again through the rest of the evening. I left early. I don’t know for sure, but I think everyone was glad that I did, or at least could breathe more easily.

Granted, this is a bit more than glazed eyes, it was outright rudeness, but Glazed Eyes is simply a title to be explored and discussed. What do you do about it? How does it make you feel? And how do you handle it afterward? Do you write about it? Talk with someone, sit in a corner and lick your wounds?

What did I do about it? Went home and brooded for a bit. Then called a former student, who had become a good friend, and told her what had happened. She let me vent, agreed with some of my feelings, and said it didn’t change anything, most of all me. That it spoke volumes about the man, the entire group, but nothing about my person as an individual. I would still go on writing, and maybe not count on my sister too heavily for my social life? And then we started laughing and swapping one liners. I was okay the next morning and got up, went to my computer and posted to a prompt.

Okay, your turn. Be aware that I have set it up so that you can reply to someone else’s comments, or drop down and simply reply to the topic as a whole. Thanks again, to all of you. And one last idea. What would you think of taking a turn in the hot seat? You choose the topic and present it here, in whatever form you choose, then open it up for discussion. We’ll work out the details, but I’d like to occasionally just be part of the group.

Elizabeth 7/1/11

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About 1sojournal

Loves words and language. Dances on paper to her own inner music. Loves to share and keeps several blogs to facilitate that. They can be found here: http://1sojournal.wordpress.com/ http://soulsmusic.wordpress.com/ http://claudetteellinger.wordpress.com/
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13 Responses to Discussion #1: Glazed Eyes

  1. Tilly Bud says:

    There’s no reason why you can’t take part in the discussion that follows. I’d be disappointed if you didn’t.

    If I ever have a topic, I’ll ask for a go, but I’ve nothing at the moment.

    I think some people are just rude and full of themselves; those two men being a perfect example. It was bad behaviour and should be ignored.

    There are many good, even great, writers who are never published, or only a little. There can be many reasons. Perhaps they don’t care enough to try; they are too scared to try; life gets in the way. Amateur status should not be sneered at: consider the Olympics.

    A writer is a writer is a writer: sometimes they are famous in their lifetime, sometimes not. Shakespeare was valued as an actor and businessman in his lifetime, not the greatest writer of all time; we know hardly anything of Sappho; Emily Dickinson never left home and never made money from her poems.

    In my considered opinion, those men should get stuffed. They know not whereof they speak. 🙂

    You don’t need to be validated – or invalidated – by strangers who know nothing about you.

    • 1sojournal says:

      Thanks Tilly and you make several good points. The one about validation is important, because we all need to know that what we do is of value and meaning. I like your examples, especially Emily D. We make the choice to be writers, but that doesn’t necessarily mean our choice will be applauded. And is one of the biggest reasons why this online writing community fills such a deep need. Here, we can write and express what we have to express, and find others who will pat us on the back for making that effort. No one gets paid, yet the community thrives and continues to grow. I’m just grateful I found it and all of you.

      What my friend said is true. That experience said a lot about the other people there, their value and belief systems. And I wonder if any of them know, just how much it said.

      Elizabeth

  2. pmwanken says:

    Oh, Elizabeth — what an awful experience! I have a saying for those two: “Some people’s kids!” I use that when referring, in actuality, to the parents who didn’t teach them to be proper!

    Thankfully, the people in my life whose eyes glaze over are only doing just that: having a glazed look. So I move on in the conversation to a topic of mutual interest, I don’t stop writing, and I turn to the wonderful people who have become a part of my life through this poetry-blogging network. I am energized by the kind of conversation that this site will provide. Thank you!!

    (By the way, I’m with Tilly: you should definitely be a part of conversation/discussion along the way, Elizabeth…but yes, if I have a topic or question to bring up I will let you know! Thanks for hosting us!)

    ~Paula

  3. hummmmm…. since I am a visual artist, a woman and a writer, nothing here very high on the corporate list. We live in a male dominated society. Everything is about money. Don’t expect to change that in the minds of others. We have to define for ourselves our success. What is important to you. What you do.

    I think it was Isaac Dennison who said, do not seek success outside the studio. We have to nurture ourselves, and know our value. We can’t expect our lives to be value to another. It is about communication, and it isn’t about the number, if there is one, that is enough. One person who likes to read what you write, likes to look at what you paint, that is enough.

    Some people are rude, and it really has nothing to do with you. They are rude. I think I would have done the same, if I feel someone is being rude, I would remove myself, I don’t have to put up with ignorance.

  4. In my opinion rudeness is learned behavior. I tend to agree with what Paula said, imagine what their parents must be like. Elizabeth, you are a fine writer and a welcome presence wherever you go. Those men are toads, to be avoided at all cost.

    Pamela

  5. Elizabeth says:

    Lol, thank you all for leaping to my defense, but that isn’t the reason I told the story. Glazed eyes signal a deep lack of interest in the thing we are most interested in. Joseph Campbell said we are to follow our bliss, and when and if we do, the rest will fall in line, hopefully. But, following our bliss is a personal choice we make. Part of that choice should be to consider the cost of making it. And part of that cost is to confront the fact that we make a choice that sets us outside of the ‘Norm.’ We choose a lonely path. Writing is a singular activity, done alone with only ones own thoughts and words for company.

    Yet, as human beings, we own a primary need to belong and to be accepted. Choosing to write, means going counter to that primary need. I believe the strength and growth of this community is buried in Paula’s original statement. She sat down with Margo and both their eyes lit up and resulted in three hours of conversation (which probably wouldn’t have been enough for me). That is the main reason I opened this site up to these discussions.

    Yes, this was a harsh example, but I know I am not the only one who has been treated to such behavior. I’d like to hear your stories as well. And there was someone else who was disturbed by the behavior that evening. My sister. She used to be one of the glazed eyed people of my acquaintance. That is no longer true. Now she listens and even discusses some of my online adventures with me, going so far as to make comments and suggestions. That evening wasn’t a total bust. Far from it. I learned and so did she.

    Elizabeth

  6. margo roby says:

    I suspect all of us have a glazed eyes story [although you tell a particularly good story, Elizabeth]. I am/was lucky that in my first 15 years of writing I had my mentor, who taught with me, where I could talk to him every day about writing poetry. But, now that I recall, the rest of the department, despite being English teachers with a passion for literature, didn’t know quite how to treat the two of us when we talked about our own work, and tended to stay out of those conversations. But I and he only needed one person and were lucky enough to work together for so long.

    With the best will in the world, close friends, even family, while they are thrilled for me, don’t get it because they haven’t experienced the process all of us are so lucky to go through. My daughter is the only other person besides my mentor and outside of this community who I can sit down and tear apart a poem with, and discuss poetic issues, but she has her own life…lives in a different city.

    I think the rest of the world doesn’t get it. And, if people can’t relate in terms they understand [like making money] we lose them. It’s the same with pain. I have a low threshold and my husband a high one. He gets the equivalent of glazed eyes when I feel achy, unwell, hurt myself on something that appears small. He doesn’t mean to, but as he does not experience these things, he does not understand my pain process and after murmured support avoids the subject. he is thrilled that I am happy with my writing life, but conversations? Nope.

    I don’t think most people mean to be rude. They don’t know where to go next in the conversation once it moves outside their world of relatable items. Now, my mother may disprove this, to a degree. I am staying with her for a month and brought her an anthology in which I have two small pieces. She has been dipping into the book and has several questions she wants to ask. I’ll get back to you on whether a conversation ensues or just some settling of questions. I suspect the latter.

    I miss those conversations with my mentor and there is nothing quite like “in person”. But this cyber-poetic community means more to me by the day.

    margo

  7. Pingback: Poem Response to Wordle #11 « Margo Roby: Wordgathering

  8. vivinfrance says:

    Elizabeth, thank you for raising this topic. Yes, I mostly receive the glazed look if I talk about poetry. At last week’s sewing session at my house, one of the ladies – a good friend normally – said “I hate poetry” and went on at length as to the reason – a teacher 40 years ago! It’s their loss, as they’ve never experienced that fizz of joy at the birth of a successful poem or the glow of pleasure on reading good poetry.

    I think we have to accept that, in the main, the readership for poetry is other poets.

    On a more positive note, at a party last week we were talking about language learning and “faux amis” (those French homonyms of English words that mean exactly the opposite) with a charming Frenchman. Jock mentioned that I had had poems published in French. I jokingly said that I would write a poem making fun of these words, and the man immediately gave me his card so that I could send the poem to him!

    • Mary says:

      Viv, I do agree. The main readership for poetry is other poets. Such is life. I think there are a lot of fields like this: Poetry is not an exception. I understand people’s lack of interest in poetry, just as I hope they understand my lack of interest in, say, a depthful discussion of basketball or astrophysics or any number of subjects.

  9. Mary says:

    I truthfully don’t talk about poetry with a lot of people. And when I do, some are interested, but most are not interested in reading my blog; or they will read something there only when I send them a direct link. And some just don’t like poetry. And truthfully, there are some people that I don’t care to have read my poetry anyway. I have written two poetry anthologies and really have never promoted them. I write them for myself and to give to people who someday will have something to remember me by. There truthfully are a lot of people I don’t necessarily want to know me as personally as my poetry shows me to be. I really have not experienced ‘ glazed eyes,’ as truly I don’t talk about it much. Only with people I feel the ‘poetry kindred spirit’ with. (And I am fortunate to know some, plus the ‘poetry community’ here.) When you think about it, each of us might have glazed eyes about someone else’s pet subject too. I know someone who is a techno geek who explains the workings of various things to me in great detail. I appreciate his knowledge, his helpfulness, but my eyes glaze when he thinks I want to know the intricacies and the scientific terms, etc. He may not understand WHY my eyes glaze over (though I appreciate his knowledge and can feel his passion for his subject) in the same way some poets may not understand why some others’ eyes may glaze over if we discuss poetry.

  10. 1sojournal says:

    I want to thank each and everyone of you for joining in and writing out your thoughts and feelings. This was a delightful and wonderful beginning, as well as a rather intriguing conversation. You all made good thoughtful points and I, for one, really enjoyed the variety and interest all of you showed. High five to all of us!

    Elizabeth

  11. Mr. Walker says:

    As the only male who seems to be here at the moment, I hesitate to answer on their behalf. In fact, I wouldn’t. They were rude, and I don’t think I’m a rude person – and I’m not going to defend them. I will say that a lot of men do define success monetarily. I’m not one of those men. I’m a public school teacher. I clearly didn’t choose a profession for the money. My wife makes considerably more than I do. Does that make me a SNAG (sensitive new age guy)? Well… sensitive and guy, yes, new age, not really.

    I was bothered by the “hobby” comment. It’s sad, really, that they could so easily dismiss someone, a person, and her interests that are so much more than a hobby. I don’t consider writing poetry a hobby. Hobby is just not a strong enough word. Because it is something I’m passionate about, I don’t discuss it much with others.

    I’m an introvert, which is why this whole posting poems on the internet works for me. I’m not going to poetry readings or workshops. I’m also not going to draw attention to myself by discussing poetry. I’m already considered enough of an oddball, that I’m not going to wave the Poetry flag and see who ignores me. So, I don’t get the Glazed Eyes look too often, mostly because I don’t seek out situations where it might occur.

    Recently, we were at a friends’ house, another couple like my wife and I with two children, and the husband’s mother was visiting and had dinner with us. At one point, our hostess mentioned to her mother-in-law that I was a writer, but it got lost. I don’t recall if it was because of another conversation, or just not listening, or what. I didn’t even get the Glazed Eyes look. I wasn’t acknowledged at all.

    As Robert Graves said: “There’s no money in poetry, but there’s no poetry in money, either.”

    Richard

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