Three Chicago Poems

So before I decided anything, I had to figure out what my Chicago story was and there wasn’t just one answer to this. I thought a lot about talking about why I ended up in Chicago. It would have been almost like a backstory to me ended with coming to Chicago. But I realized that just because I made it to Chicago my life wasn’t roses, so instead of doing serious character piece about myself prior to Chicago, I wanted to focus on my life in Chicago.

The Food

Looking up ‘n down the street at pizza joints

Like they’re galleries,

This city’s like an

International cavalcade of calories.

Friends tell me of their man,

for Ramen,

Or who’s the worst,

When it comes to bratwurst.

But I’m no foodie,

I don’t dig sushi,

Not a fan of linguine,

And don’t talk to me about my weenie,

I don’t understand a Chicago style dog,

I just need ketchup,

Mustard.

Relish,

Don’t make me sickle,

With that pickle,

Don’t assault it

with a celery salting.

Just give me a Fenway Frank,

And frankly,

And I know you think that your deep dish,

Is delish,

But it’s too much,

Give me thin crust.

My girlfriend wants to eat her food,

Without taking lives,

I just want to eat pizza

Without forks and knives,

Why does food need to be so complicated?

It’s too big,

It’s too much,

It’s too all at once.

They say that food represents the place it comes from,

So maybe it’s no surprise,

That when dining in Chicago,

One’s mind may call no go,

Because this whelmed is done,

Overeasy,

Exquize me,

My lines are getting quite cheesy,

Food metaphors aside,

This city’s complex,

South Loop or South Side,

Especially to me,

Coming in,

From the outside.

 

The Victory

Have you ever heard a thousand feet,

As they hit concrete,

Unified in one feeling?

Have you ever felt a hundred years,

Of misfortune turn around,

In one simple moment?

Have you ever stood with a dozen friends,

As the sky cries champagne tears,

And cry along with it?

Have you ever dogged glass bottles,

Then regret wearing shorts,

When you pick a shard out of your calf?

Have you ever gotten elbowed right between the eyes,

As you’re trying to move through a crowd,

And you don’t know where it came from?

Have you ever had a friend jump in the back of a random truck,

As it drives along a mobbed street,

Then walk half a block to find them?

Have you ever have a firework lit between your knees,

Only to have your friend tackle you out of harm’s way,

Then wonder if you should name your first born after them?

Have you ever been in Wrigleyville when the Cubs win in all?

Because if you haven’t,

let me tell you a few things.

 

 

The Cold

The snow falls softly over the city rooftops,

Busy still the roads as cars tremble along,

Humans bundled in multilayer outfits,

Loose their natural shape.

Winds carry in off the lake,

Howl down the busy city road,

And strike frozen arrows,

Into padded human targets.

Yet I am not cold.

The black charred furnace of my,

Broken bitter heart beats furious,

For love long missed.

Though newfound friends tend,

The gentle warmth within,

None shall ever replace her spark.

On the lonely weekend,

Being an insufferable shut in,

I sit and think a whiles,

About the many miles,

That lay between us now,

How I wish I was the wind,

To shed my padded shell of warmth,

To fly smooth like an arrow across the miles,

To howl my affections for all to hear,

To carry over the might lakes,

To be not bound by shape, body, or road.

But alas I am not the wind,

So I am here,

Alone,

Watching the snow fall softly over city rooftops. (Connor Hevey/CoS Student)

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The Great Escape

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I.

Sunset

Beginning at 3:00, sitting in the grass

Memorize how the daylight falls

Before it all goes dark too fast.

I disappear,

I escape.

I want to run, the sleep can wait.

Beetles and Insect skeletons lining

the lonely corners I’ve been hiding in

Too scared to start again, so stuck on pretending,

Discard the feeling because you can’t feel the right way

Numbing the meaning in the morning when you can’t stay                                              late

you ask me again.                                                                                                              and

Who are you?

Disintegrate, dissolve

All of my mistakes are made and I am stained in these shades of shame.

Memorize how the daylight fades

Another day wasted away

Eyes/lights blink – spin, sway

I don’t have anything to say

I disappear,

I escape.

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II.

rose and lemon soft and lovely/sour candy

First taste bliss but leave feeling empty

Lavender and Violet

matching my bruises,

capture                                                 the sky

camera                                                my mind

laundry detergent, washing machine

hidden in the closet, butterflies mistaken for

dead, falling Autumn leaves.

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III.

Sitting at the base of a skyscraper and all

I see

is varying lights:soft orange, electric blue,

Blinking,

yellow fluorescent stars

melodies repeating, memories twisted

And tangled into something tangible

A spider’s lace slowly invading every crevice;

headaches and rocks (Amphetamines)

keeping me restless

Promise me that you won’t forget this

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ge_10IV.

Close your eyes

You’re flying through the air

Loose grip//Quick slip

Open your eyes

You’re falling through the air

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And then the sun rises and November is over.

The train takes you downtown too soon and you spend some hours alone.

Watching leaves fall and dance around in the sky before they hit the ground

for the first time in their lives.

Quit the chemical impact, inject a new poison into this bloodstream

and keep quiet when you want to scream.

How could all of this possibly add up to mean anything?

When you go out into the streets and watch the lives they all decide to lead;

leave behind some piece of mind for those lost and waiting

for some rock-bottom, higher-power saving.

And when the time comes, who’s to say you wont be too weak to move

Forget what they told you,

December is a cold blue.

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(Maria Villa/CoS Student)

Give

There is no doubt in my mind that my song “Give” narrates a personal, internal struggle.

A period of my life was spent wishing I would leave Chicago. So many of my shadows and bouts I’ve been through have been in this city; I very much believed I was suffocating. But one beautiful, early morning at Lake Shore Drive, a sudden answer to a question had been given to me. I tested the waters with my toes. Blistering. Freezing. There was no way I was going to plunge my body into that lake. But I did anyway.

On my back, my face towards the skies, I closed my eyes and let my mind rid of the problems affecting me. I only thought of peaceful things. Then a sudden rush of gratefulness came into me. I realized that I wouldn’t be who I was without Chicago, and my music most certainly would not be the same either. I realized that then and there, it’s not that I wanted to leave Chicago, it’s just that I wanted to delve deeper into it. It is imperative that I come face to face with the fact that I just cannot run away from my fear of failure.

The medium I chose to express my “Chicago story” was through song. I am a musician. It has always been my way of escapism and expression. There are affordances and constraints to this particular medium. One affordance is that song can be spread far and wide quiet easily through platforms such as the internet (SoundCloud). The power of song reigns evident as an effective way to get an idea across. Constraints all depend on the individual, but I would consider a lack of concrete visuals provided to the listener as one. My lyrics are personal and all up for interpretation in the listener’s head. (Lizette Capili/Cos Student)

 

Voices

I grew up listening to all kinds of genres ranging from classical jazz, musical show tunes, to nineties hip-hop. Not only that, but I’ve acquainted myself with several talented musicians that I am certain will make it big one day. The three musicians I chose to interview in my documentary all tell a part of my own Chicago story as well. Coincidently, their genres reflect my my attitude during each phase of my life living in Chicago.

Below is a documentary by CoS Student, Nathan Junkroski.

Unrest

It is so much easier to cancel plans today than it was years ago. You can just send a text and you won’t feel bad about it. Three different people said they would go to the protest with me, and all three ended up staying home. I debated staying home too, no one would know the difference, but that thought bugged me. I needed to go out there. I was restlessly doing nothing while everything I believed in was being attacked.

I understand many people are uneducated about the issues at stake or they don’t understand, but this is how you spread awareness. Some people call us whiny, that we need to settle and stop disrupting things. They are entitled to that opinion, but that is what people said about the sixties. And if it weren’t for that disruption and that ‘whining,’ we wouldn’t be where we are today.

img_8590It was cold that morning, but it wasn’t cold enough for me to wear a coat all day. I didn’t have a sign, but I was ready for a long day. When I got to Millennium Park, there weren’t many people there, I got a little scared that we wouldn’t have a good turnout and I would be made fun of by my friends for going at all on a day where no one showed up. I followed a few people with signs and we simply walked around for awhile until one person with a large sign told us that everyone was gathering nearby. We stood silently on the pavement until someone else suggested we started chanting so others knew where to go. Before long, the place was crowded and we were on the move, marching around the perimeter of the park. We spanned blocks, with police standing next to the sidewalk and telling everyone to stay out of the street. People joined in, an organization was handing out signs for people to hold that said “America Was Never Great. We Need to Overthrow This System!”. As we turned north again, towards Trump Tower, we began to move into the streets completely, while police moved the traffic around us.

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We marched from The Art Institute, past Trump Tower, by Water Tower, down State Street and back probably four or more times in the next three and a half hours. It was slow going and it became warm at noon as the sun shone above us. My voice was aching, all my acting training yelling at me for how I was using my voice. Even my ears were hurting while I spoke. But it was so positive. Whenever someone would start a chant such as “Fuck Trump,” it would immediately be replaced with something more positive such as “Love Trumps Hate”. There were people from every walk of life. People from all over were there. There were infants in strollers or being carried. There were seven years olds with signs that they had obviously written themselves. There were senior citizens walking slowly beside us, choosing not to chant in order to save their voices. We got a lot of support from the street. Cars would honk at us and give us thumbs up. One woman was standing by her two young children on the sidewalk and she said “Are you watching this? This is important.” One man on the street was chanting “Trump!” back against us and was garnering lots of attention from TV cameras. My favorite chants from the day were “We’re here, we’re queer, get this cheetto out of here” “Build a fence around Mike Pence” and the ever hilarious “He can’t build a wall, his hands are too small,” although I do agree that the more constructive chants were more like “Black Lives Matter” “My Body My Choice” and “We Reject the president elect”.

Around two o’clock, the march led us to a gathering where a protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline was going to start. Many left, but I also feel strongly on this issue so I figured I would stay. This event seemed to have been planned a bit more strategically. It started with speakers and some Native American traditional dances and ended with us being riled up and marching once again towards Trump Tower. One speaker remarked that she saw no one standing by someone who was the same color as themselves, and somehow that really strtuck me as I looked around. As we marched, everyone let the Native Americans lead, because this was about them, and we were there to support. We stopped when we got to Trump Tower. We couldn’t actually get close to the building because police were surrounding it, but we stopped in the street and had more chants, more speakers, and more dances. People began to split off, and after about 2 and a half hours, I left as well. I had been outside protesting for almost seven hours. Every part of me hurt and I felt sick from the cold that had become to chill me to my core, but I felt pride for what I had done. My friends seemed regretful they hadn’t come with me, though they covered it up saying “maybe it’s good I didn’t go, you look worn out”. My dad had been thinking I was going to get arrested, although he didn’t seem like he had been too stressed when I called him. I was proud of this city, and the two peaceful protests I had been a part of.

In times like these, people often look back in order to contextualize where we are today. I tried to image Bigger Thomas from Native Son today. Would he still feel uncomfortable at his job? Would he still wonder “what Jack and Gus and G.H. would say if they saw him sitting between two white people in a car”? Would his crimes still be inevitable and Richard Wright suggests? At one point in my life I was in the blissful place where I believed that we had come a long, long way since the racism of the forties. I look at the news today I see we haven’t come as far as we like to think we have.

I also wonder about women’s rights. The progress here sometimes seems more tangible, but how far could we have come when our bodies are still talked about as objects, things without feelings, merely toys for others? How far can we have come when we still haven’t had a woman president? When people see a woman running for president and think she is unfit mostly (whether naysayers acknowledge it or not) for misogynistic reasons, how far have we come? Just like Cisneros speaks of in A House of My Own speaking of her experience in the eighties, we are still battling the fact that it is always questioned when a woman doesn’t want to immediately marry or when she wants to keep working if she does have a family. Expectations remain mostly the same since Cisneros wrote that “the father wants his daughter to be a weather girl on television, or to marry and have babies. She doesn’t want to be a TV weather girl. Nor does she want to marry and have babies. Not yet.” We seem to overlook that we still have far to go in many of our issues, which is why we need to keep fighting.

Since I have been in Chicago, I have already experienced two moments that will be looked back on in history. I will be able to say “I remember where I was when _____ happened.” The first was the Cubs winning the World Series (please congratulate me for not slipping up and saying the Super Bowl), and the second was November 8th/9th, 2016. The 8th started out as an average day but ended in tears that continued for days. About nine people were in my dorm room, some trying to ignore the results coming in by being loud in a different room while others of sat staring at the screen in shock and terror. In the early hours of November 8th, many felt that their fates were sealed. One girl in my apartment looked me in the eyes and said “I’m a black, queer, woman. I’m basically dead”. Why are we protesting, some may ask? For them, for each other, for ourselves, for this country.

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Many Trump supporters have lately expressed their feelings that they don’t think he is racist or sexist or xenophobic or ablest; that he has never said anything that implies that. I would say that I envy the fact that these people have the privilege in their own minds to ignore his rhetoric and not notice how damaging it is, but I can’t say that, because I envy nothing that harms others so much. How can you not think of someone who was a leader in the ‘birther’ movement against Obama and who is endorsed by the KKK as racist? How can you not think of someone who said callous things about women and never apologized for it as sexist? How can you not think of someone who calls Mexicans ‘rapists’ as xenophobic (and racist)? How can you not think of someone who openly mocks a disabled man as ablest? I can’t apologize for how I feel, because it is not something like rights to an inanimate object such as a gun that you are taking away, it is my right to my own body. It is my friend’s and family’s rights as humans.

I may be called whining by some, but it has already started conversations, and conversations are the fuel for change. (Izzie Karp/CoS Student)

Crash Course

What if I told you that my entire dispatch happened during a car ride? That’s right a card ride, with only one stop.

Okay, so it’s Monday November the 21st, at around twelve o’clock and I am waiting in the freezing cold. Then a large navy blue SUV pulls up at the corner. It contains my GTA, Jeffry, and his wife, Lillian. I open the door, get in, do the whole “Hi” spiel, and Jeffry starts to drive. The moment he pressed the gas petal, this ordinary SUV turned into the information/history mobile, with two kinda historians in the front seat. As we drive down LaSalle Street, Jeffry’s wife begins to ask me about myself: Where am I from, What’s my major, Why did I choose Columbia? As I answer, I am just staring out the window, in awe of Jeffry and his wife’s willingness to take me on this expedition – mission get Anna in touch with Chicago, make her more familiar with the city, and stave off that fear of getting lost that comes with being directionally challenged in a new place. I had great anticipation about what we were going to see and do. I felt like one of those kids in a movie who is moving with their family, and they have their head out the window just absorbing the new environment that they’re going to be a part of.

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Then Jeffery says that the first thing we are going to see is The Rookery. As we drive, he and his wife begin to tell me that The Rookery is not only the first Sky Scraper in Chicago but in the world,  and that it was built by William Le Baron Jenney in 1885. Then I turn and there it is, and, while it’s high, its height isn’t that impressive because of the other taller buildings that now surround it. But, it is gorgeous. You could clearly tell that a lot of work went into this building. It is composed of red brick with mind blowing carvings and sculptures all over it, the arches, the entrance, the windows. And, I couldn’t help but think, where has all this detail and love gone? Now all we see are mostly tall buildings surrounded in glass.

After coming out of my awed state, we headed toward the theater district, where I saw all the theaters that were currently showing the most popular plays. It was a field of commercial lights and play posters. After exiting the field, we headed toward the West Loop. As we drove down Wacker Drive, we passed the Merchandise Mart. All I could think was “Wow that building is massive.” Jeffry and his wife then proceeded to tell me that the Merchandise Mart was indeed the largest building in the world at the time it was built in 1930. It was owned by Marshall Fields; he later sold it to the Kennedy family. The building is so large that it actually has its own ZIP CODE.

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Headed toward the West Loop, I just stared out the car window looking and thinking there were just buildings, and people, and cars for miles. I started to see how large just this one section of the city was, and how small I was in comparison. Driving around in a car is different than getting off at specific “L” station, walking around, and getting back on the “L” at the same station (things seem smaller and disconnected that way).

By now this cool dynamic has formed in the car, it’s like there’s this switch. As we drive from sight to sight, the three of us joke and talk and trade stories; but when the next sight comes up, the switch is flicked, the conversation stops, the history lesson begins. Once we pass the sight, the switch is flicked back, and the conversation starts again. So, the switch flicks on and off, on and off.

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Now, we are in the West Loop on Randolph Street. Jeffry has told me to take out the neighborhood map that he asked me to print and bring so he can show me where we are. He wants me to get my bearings, so the city won’t seem so confusing. As we drive down Randolph Street, Lillian is pointing out all these neat buildings and giving me fun facts about them. She points out the Delaware Building. It’s one of the buildings that went up after the great fire. As we slowly drive toward Wicker Park, I learn that, Oprah’s old “headquarters” building is being torn down, and the McDonald’s headquarters is replacing it. Both Jeffry, his wife, and I agree that this is stupid because right now McDonald’s is located in the suburbs and that is much less expensive.

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As, we drive around Wicker Park, I ask what Wicker Park was like before it was this hip and happening place. Lillian tells me that mostly mansions were located here. She then tells me a story about when she was in one of the mansions for her job. Then we pass a vacant lot, and Jeffry tells me the building on it caught on fire right after it was sold. Tell me that isn’t a sign of foul play? Then we all decide we’re hungry. So, we stop at Big Star, and get one of the best taco’s I’ve ever had. After, finishing lunch and telling each other horrible teacher stories, Jeffry and his wife have me explore on my own. I look at the expensive shops, none of which I can afford, and dream of being able to afford them and envy the people that can. Then I take out my phone and start taking pictures because there are some great shots. Like in the middle of a busy street corner, there is an old fashion red telephone box. After wondering for about an hour, I meet back up with my two tour guides and we’re off again. This time we’re headed towards Logan Square.

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As we drove down Milwaukee Avenue and into the boulevard area, I saw all these pretty lush parks, with the trees losing their leaves in preparation for the winter ahead. Jeffry and Lillian told me how people picnic outside in these spaces during the spring and summer, and about the farmer’s markets that take place on them. As they talked, I was thinking about how I had been there not too long ago with my roommate trying to find an animal shelter, but then I was lost and a bit bewildered. Now, I was clear about where I was, and where it fit in Chicago’s topography.

Next Jeffry drove into the Southport Corridor, and my guides told me about a few good restaurants in this small hip area that I might want to try if I were to go on a date. We then jumped over to Wrigleyville, where I thought I had never been to until I got there. As it turned out, I’d had a pretty bad experience in Wrigleyville, trying to get to a restaurant, getting hopelessly lost at night for about an hour and a half, and needing someone to come and get me.  We laughed as we drove through the neighborhood because it was row after row of nothing but bars, bars, and more bars. I could just see Cubs fans coming from Wrigley Field after a game and getting drinks to celebrate winning or drown their sorrows after losing.

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Then we were in Lake View. Lake View made me a little home sick. It reminded me of DC. First, there were the areas still in change mode where there were regular apartments with new nicer ones sandwiched in-between. Then came the sprinkle of up and coming businesses. Small but really good shops and restaurants like my family and I hang out in on weekends in D.C. Then we went to Lincoln Park. I think it shocked Jeffry and his wife a little that I said I had never been there given that it is such a well-known, go to place. This is where we passed the Steppenwolf Theater. Jeffry asked me if I wanted to go inside. I said no because my friend and I are trying to get out and see a show once a month. So, I would hopefully be there soon enough, and my friend and I could take it in for the first time together.

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Up until this point, to be totally honest, all of the neighborhoods were blurring together a little bit because many of them had a similar look and vibe. But, I remember hitting Old Town and ending up on Wells Street quite well. The first thing I remember is Jeffry asking me whether I had been to Second City. When I said no, I got a very energized, “You must go there!” We didn’t see the actual Second City building, but we talked about how hard it is to get into a conservatory like Second City’s.  And, as we passed this little comedy theater, Zannie’s,  Jeffry’s wife told be how she constantly gets discounts for it because she left her business card there. I laughed; and Jeffry announced that we were going to start heading back, and go through Gold Coast on the way and then to the Magnificent Mile.

I didn’t know what the Magnificent Mile was, and, again, I didn’t think I had been until I got there. I stayed there with my mom when she came to visit me on parent’s weekend. It brought back some fun and happy memories, us walking through the city starving trying to figure out where to eat, laughing, talking, and going across the bridge to her hotel in the freezing cold. I tried to take a picture of the bridge, but a massive white SUV got in the way. Lillian then began to tell me why they had restaurants right on the docks. She said that it was just like a truck stop back in the day, except for sailors and boat captains. They would dock their boats and go inside the restaurants on the dock to relax, eat, talk, and just have a break.

When we got across the bridge, we were on the rich side of Chicago, with nothing but expensive, expensive, expensive for as far as the eye could see. The whole car got a laugh when Jeffry’s wife told a story about how snotty the people can be here. A man who owns a coffee shop , down a bit from where the car was, decided to open up a tiny gelato shack on the street. The snotty rich people in the area started a petition to change this guy’s gelato because it wasn’t amazing enough. They said they should get to decide what new gelato they would sell there (they wanted one that met their standards). We all laughed, and Jeffry’s wife and I laughed even more when we passed an H&M amongst all the expensive Gucci, Vera Wang, Rolex, and other designer stores. Maybe the people that shop at H&M would have liked the low-end gelato place.

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Then we were done. Jeffry and his wife dropped me off at the theater building at 3:30, so I could make my rehearsal. After one last story exchange, and saying goodbye and thank you, I exited the car with my stuff and they drove off.

At first, I had sort of dreaded this trip, afraid it was going to be awkward and odd. But, it was so much fun! I had great conversations with my two historians, and learned so much, not just from seeing the sights but just talking. It’s amazing how much we fit in one car ride. I got a crash course in Chicago, realized that there is definitely more to Chicago then the loop, and that I live in a place much bigger than I originally thought. The main goal was to make me more comfortable and familiar with the city, and chip away at my fear of getting lost. I’d say, thanks to an afternoon in a car with my very warm and generous GTA and his wife, I’m more comfortable and familiar with Chicago. Now, whether I’m still going to get lost is another story. I mean, I’m better schooled and less intimidated now, but, I am still me. (Anna Paliga/CoS Student)

A Little Hope

The Center for the History of Black Music is a small library within the Career Center at Columbia College Chicago. When going into the center, I had no clue as to what to expect. I had no idea what I would be doing, what I would have to research, and if I would even have any interest in what I was researching.

Reaching the 6th floor of the building on S. Michigan Ave, I nervously glanced around. I arrived in a tiny hallway with two doors, one of them reading the title of the center. I almost left, thinking, “Do I really need to write this paper?” Lucky for me, I sucked it up and rang the buzzer. A kind student intern brought me into the library where she introduced me to a very helpful librarian. She held a specific shelf for certain students, and she introduced me to many of the topics that she had available. I didn’t recognize most of the names that she threw at me and I was almost ashamed that I wasn’t familiar with historic black music from Chicago. The final name, however, made me nearly jump with excitement.

The book I chose to research was an autobiography of the childhood of Kanye West, one of the most popular rappers to modern date. The book, called Raising Kanye, was transcribed by Donda West, Kanye’s mom. Being a frequent listener of Kanye’s music, as well as hearing how he grew up in Chicago and went to Columbia for a semester, I was surprised at how little I knew about his upbringing. As someone who had not been properly informed on Kanye’s background, I simply saw the idolized figure as another “rap god” that fed off of the media and the drama from the journalists scratching away at him. I simply saw him as the wealthy rapper who got a big break. I never really thought about how he was raised and the strong effect that had on his career and success.

It’s no doubt that Kanye is a very outspoken figure that many young adults can preach to. West quotes, “If parents could be more open-minded to their children, more open to what their children are into-like their music, their clothes, and their interests-maybe they could raise children who become open-minded adults. That’s how my mom was. And I was open to what she told me because she always valued what I had to say” (West ix). Kanye had to be open minded, as well as his mother, in order to go into the business that he thrives off of so well. When someone mentions that they desire to delve into the arts, specifically musical performance, there’s no doubt that they might be laughed at or doubted because everyone seems to have a solid belief that there’s no way to make it into that sort of career. That people are simply born into it. What they don’t realize, however, is the hard work and dedication that it truly takes to become a figure that others will look up to in an artistic sense. Donda understood what success took, and due to her own uprising, she was able to shape Kanye’s childhood into the same ideal of success at all costs.

Donda West quotes, “My father always had a way of making me feel that I was the most special and smartest person on earth, and I never wanted to disappoint him. I’m told that when I was born he said, ‘I’ll make her a masterpiece.’ I have adsorbed those words into my being-in my mind, spirit, and actions. I prayed that prayer to make my child brilliant, in the same vein as my father wanting to make me a masterpiece” (West 4). From a young age, West had the strong hope that her son would grow up to be someone important, to make a difference in this world. She admits numerous times that in no way, shape, or form was it easy raising Kanye, but she kept her hope and her determination in her to drive both her and her son forward.

In the sense of finding the path to success while doing what you love, I can easily relate to Kanye and his drive to become something to the world. Kanye quotes at the beginning of the book, “I wanted to make it as great as she is. I wanted to tell the whole world about our friendship and how it came to be. I also wanted to talk about her in the most artistic way I could. I wanted her to know how much I appreciate her for the way she raised me” (West ix). In the quote, Kanye explains why he worked so hard on his song “Hey Mama” for so long, due to the fact that the song was about his mother. He had a strong hope of making his mother proud in one sense of another. He wanted to create something in honor of his mother because she raised him believing that he could do what he loved, and because of that he is where he is today. In a way, it can be observed that Kanye had a sort of drive to give back to his mom in a way. He wanted to do something for her because she had done so much for him.

In the same sense, I can relate to Kanye (I never thought I would type those words out). From a young age, I’ve had a love for art. I started writing comics as young as seven, illustrating tem as well. My first was about a cat that went into space. I began creative writing when I was in seventh grade, writing my first story about a teenage girl having the worst birthday ever. From there, I began to write little pieces here and there, until one day in eighth grade I began to publish my stories online. The feedback from other young writers like me was insane, with nearly forty thousands people commenting on my work and sharing it with one another. At that point in time, I shared my work with my Dad in hopes that he would have some sort of input on it. I didn’t know what to expect after showing him what I truly loved to do.

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“I want to be a writer,” I told him. It was one of the most nerve-wracking things I’d ever said as a sophomore in high school. What would he think? Would he shame me for wanting to go on this path of a career? He was a businessman, and ever since I was little, all he would talk about in my future was how I would become a strong woman in the business industry. He had raised me to be strong and powerfully minded in the sense that I wouldn’t take bullshit from anybody. He had raised me to be a businesswoman.

“Then let’s make it happen,” He responded. I was so dumbfounded that I wasn’t sure what to say. Becoming a writer was no where near a businesswoman. “You’re going to be a kick ass writer.” It was that point in time when I realized that my Dad didn’t actually care about what it was that I went into. He told me I could be a lumberjack for all that he cared. All he wanted to me was to go into what I loved to do as a strong independent individual. He wanted the strength that he had invested into me to shine through my everyday life and the art that I create. He wanted for me to do what I love, and he made sure I did it.

I didn’t understand why he was so keen on allowing for me to go to arts school and become a writer as I so wanted to. My senior year of high school, he told me, “My parents forced me to go to college to be an engineer,” He explained. “I wanted to do something more, like be an architect or designer. But they sent me to school to be an engineer, and I dropped out because I couldn’t find it in me to do something that I hated. To this day, I regret allowing my parents to force me into making my life decisions into what they wanted. I would never want that for you. I just want for you to be happy.”

Donda West explains in her novel how her parents lifestyle on her affected how she raised Kanye. While my grandparents did not have a positive effect on my Dad’s career choices, that still lead him to turn around what he believed and raise me, along with my five other siblings, into strong, independent individuals. Because of my Dad and the way he raised me, I grew up believing that I had to right to do what I want with my life. That art is something that I love, and I should be proud of it. As time as progressed, and I’ve traveled to Chicago, I’ve come to a deep appreciation for my Dad and the way he raised me with the ability to do what I love. In a world full of negativity and doubts, it’s important for some to look into the fog and grin at the challenge, because we could all use a little hope in this world. (Jamie Doonan/CoS Student)