Friday, December 28, 2012


"It's about innocence," Jennifer said.

Kel frowned in thought, strategizing. "So, what, you lose your magic the first time you have se--"

"It's not about virginity," Jennifer bit out. She'd had this conversation before, it seems. "It's about innocence. And no matter what strange ideas people keep confusing, virginity and innocence are not directly related. Someone who'd just been grabbed into a dark alley would probably have more difficulty casting a spell than someone who'd just slept with someone they love."

"Huh," Kel said. "Any idea why that is?"

Jen rubbed the bridge of her nose. "Theories. What magic feels like you're climbing a rock wall, and there's a handhold you aren't quite tall enough to reach, but you could jump for it. But it's difficult, because if you hesitate, if you put anything less than all your strength into that jump, then you won't make it."

"And jumping means letting go of what you know is solid, for what might work," Kel finished.


"So I have to trust...what?"

Jen spread her arms. "Trust that you are built for the world, and the world is built for you. Trust that you are made to fit, designed specifically to be able to make that leap. Trust the universe, trust your body, trust yourself. And"--she closed her eyes and took the sort of deep breaths that Kel had seen Anne take when she had a panic attack. Jennifer flattened her palm and pointed all her fingers forward--"focus." Fire shot from her fingertips in a straight line.

Jen looked to Kel. "You try."

Kel looked at Jen's hands, then her own. I am made for the world. This is nearly indistinguishable from the world being made for me. I am a being of leaps and bounds and energy. I survive. I can do this.

Kel held her palm as Jen had, then paused. I have no need of fire. My survival does not depend upon it at this moment. What do I need?

This was gentler, and so Kel softened the line of her palm into curves, then swept a motion through the air. A sphere of water floated where she had gestured.

"Interesting," said Kel.

Friday, December 21, 2012

How Tumblr Got Me Writing Poetry Again

Happy apocalypse!
When I write poetry, I tend to prefer writing in free verse. I am not sure if I could pinpoint when this started, though I believe it is connected to my obsession with sharing my thoughts, and that my streams of consciousness are more likely to come out in poetry space d     oddly than in  n e a t  l i t t l e  r o w s . Admittedly, I generally prefer to read something with a strict meter and rhyme scheme. This makes poetry the only place where what I like to read and what I like to write differ. At least, it is the only place where they differ due to my preferences rather than my ability.

Tumblr has a dialect of its own, and its own accent, which shares some characteristics with my free verse. There's a tendency to avoid proper capitalization and punctuation, but the thing is, this choice is meaningful. Odd spacing, as I demonstrated in the first paragraph, means something to the reader. It slows the sentence down a bit, and makes it more intense. Similarly, an absence of proper capitalization and ending punctuation makes the text look gentler. Pauses are indicated by commas--commas do not have to be used for their grammatically accurate purpose, which frees them in this way--and more emphatic pauses are indicated by line breaks.

Tumblr's dialect lends itself to more intimate blogging. Is it a stream of words with no particular pausing points? You can see the author meant to do that; there are no line breaks, capitals, or commas. Similarly, does one pause in the middle, as one does for a joke? Just hit 'enter' at the relevant moments. Your audience will hear you.

When I hear people talking about how this format came to be, they usually bring up the tagging system, and the fact that tumblr-users tend to make commentary in the tags. Commas are right out, since inserting a comma breaks the tag. With commas out, putting in periods looks odd, and without periods, there's hardly any reason to capitalize the first letter of a sentence. For that matter, breaks are obvious between tags, but they are not exactly like periods or commas, which encourages various ways of expressing such things outside tags--commas and exclamation marks, yes, and also line breaks.

The origin is fascinating to unravel, and I enjoy hearing (reading) new theories, and seeing new reasons for old and new theories. But there's another question, one I find equally interesting: Why did it stick?

People make up new words all the time, often with very intuitive etymologies. However, unless the terms roll off the tongue, they do not stay around very long, or they stay only in technical discussions. Those sorts of terms often get pieces of jargon attached to them, nicknames.

Tumblr is, by its purpose, not technical. So why did these patterns of writing stay?

They're how we think.

They are at least how I think, or as close as I could come to it in the medium tumblr gives me. People use odd words and acronyms, odd line breaks (stanzas), and even gifs. All of these are part of how the tumblr dialect works. One can write on tumblr and not use this dialect, but it would be difficult to work on tumblr without understanding it.

I began writing on tumblr, and falling into those habits. Expressing thoughts in the way which was most intuitive to me, closest to how I would speak if my speech were a few steps closer to my thoughts.

I feel that rhythm in my bones now, as well as I know how to write stories in English, at least as well as I can carry on a conversation in Spanish. So, when I fall into a rhythm where I might have given up on a poem for lack of ability, or never thought to write a poem at all...I can write it.

Thank you, tumblr community. You got me writing poetry again. I never realized how much I missed it.

Friday, December 14, 2012

If I were not able to play music anymore...

I would keep music in my life. I would likely become a sound engineer, because I am interested in math, though I might also become a music critic to be closer to the audience’s experience of music. If I were not able to play music nor able to participate in the professions related to music, I would still be a fan. Music is too large a part of my life for me to drop it completely. Though I have other interests, such as math, story-writing, and acting, none of them are as thoroughly a part of my life as music. I enjoy them, and I would be distraught to lose any of them, but they are not my passions in the way music is.

I do not know who I would be without music, because so much of my energy and devotion are tied to it. If I could not play music directly, I would still be a part of it.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Write an essay in which you describe your hopes and plans for your educational and professional development during the next ten years. Include such aspects as diverse interests, career goals, and options you wish to explore.

Oberlin Conservatory essay. (I'm re-applying.)

I am interested in music theory, and in learning how music and math work with each other. The mathematical patterns in music fascinate me. Be it math in music, logic in storytelling, or expressing the same idea through various media, I enjoy connecting everything I know.

I want to explore writing, drawing, mathematics, and music. I have been interested in all four of those things for several years now, but I did not feel I could learn as much as I wanted about them, especially in a formal setting. I drew very rarely because it seemed too impractical and time-consuming when I knew I wanted my focus to be on music and mathematics, but I enjoy it and want to become better at it. I have written in my spare time, but since my high school had no dedicated creative writing classes, I have mostly learned through reading and trying new ideas. I would like to learn in a class setting, because I feel that formal lessons have helped me the most in my math and music.

I have learned more about music and mathematics formally, and so know that I enjoy them in and out of class settings. I look forward to learning more about vocal technique, especially expanding my range and my dynamic control, and learning more about music theory. I also look forward to learning more about mathematical proofs and other parts of pure math that go beyond my high school curriculum.

In my professional career, I hope to perform at the San Francisco Metropolitan Opera. I love performing, and I love story told through song. I want to perform in an opera, because I enjoy every part of opera, and also because I admire the people who perform in operas regularly. Later in my career, I hope to play Brünnhilde in The Ring Cycle, because The Ring is the first opera I fell in love with, and Brünnhilde was my favorite character, both for her character and for the talent and dedication required to sing the part.

I also hope to teach. I feel that education is, from a cultural standpoint, the single most important thing one can do. I know from my friends’ experiences how much a bad teacher in any class can kill an interest in a subject, and also how important teachers are in kindling and rekindling interests. I want to help spark interest, and help people follow their interests, and I love teaching people new things.

Whatever I do, I will be happy if I bring joy and knowledge to people around me, whether that is primarily through performing art, visual art, writing, or teaching classes.
© 2009-2013 Taylor Hobart