Thursday, February 27, 2020

Week 7 Story: The Monkey King Continues

The Monkey King depiction: Source
       "One day I awoke. There was nothing before I existed, I was born of the rock and sculpted by the Heavens. I was a handcrafted entity that was untouchable for all my life, until now. I had my run-in with rebellion, I fought back with the Gods, I met with the Buddha, and I became a Buddha. I have a life full of journey and adventure, yet, I yearn for more."

       It had been 12 years since the Monkey King had been seen, then, the news came. The Monkey King was going to come out of hiding, but only to train a new enlightened one. He would come out for just one year in order to find someone to fill his shoes, then, he would never be seen again.

"I am tired of the responsibility, the weight that I carry on my shoulders is too much for one man, I need someone to carry on the torch" he exclaims, publicly to the town.

"I need not this power that I carry, I will be training one new soul to take over my place, to be the enlightened one. There are many markers of a proper Buddha, yes, but there shall be one tell-tale sign of who shall take my place. When that time comes, the world will be alerted," he continues.

Months pass, not a single update. Nothing is said or mentioned to the townspeople who were told that they would all be up for consideration in becoming the new spiritual leader, then the day came.

"While you all were waiting, I was watching. I sat back and watched. I saw how you all treated each other, treated your elders, your children, your neighbors. I watched how you treated nature, the plants that feed you and the animals that serve you. You were all waiting for a grand display and a time to showcase your goodly nature, but that is aside from the point. The way you act when no one is watching is the most important thing you can do for the earth's natural energy. Many of you only acted well when it was beneficial to you. I watched you worship and practice diligently, all while you had materialistic wants and ill wishes towards those around you. I saw the hypocrisy, the gluttony, the sin. From these displayed behaviors, I have made my choice. There is no way that any of you can be pure, not one is without fault. Therefore, my choice is simple. I expect the most recently born child of 5 years old to be offered up to me to be raised under my guide for one year. Then, once the child is molded to my liking, I will officially retire.

The small crowd of townspeople all gasp in horror, looking around for their families, their children. The guilt in their eyes was obvious, thinking of every time they had a sour thought or ill intentions. Women eagerly offered up their children to become the next enlightened one, but it did not matter. I already had the child in mind, I knew who he was. He was an orphan, no mother or father to indoctrinate him. The perfect innocent mind.

Bibliography: The Monkey King
Authors Notes: For this story, I really had no direction until I started writing. I imagine that in a lengthened version of this story, it would follow the journey of the young child becoming the next spiritual leader, where The Monkey King retired and enjoys a life of simplicity. Feel free to comment and suggestions down below, I am open to anything!

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Reading Notes: The Monkey King Part B

Monkey Fights a Demon: Source
        Like I said with part A's reading, I was very excited to continue The Monkey King's story to see where the adventure leads. I was not disappointed with where the story led. The story wrapped up very nicely and was very satisfying when Sun became a Buddha himself. To me, the story was something positive to look towards. I understand the role model that Sun serves as to young Chinese Buddhists. I really enjoyed the first story in the second half of the lineup, "The Lord of the Heavens". To me, this story was a great culmination. My favorite passage reads, "the Evening Star came forward, however, and said: “This ape was born of the purest powers of heaven and earth and sun and moon. He has gained the hidden knowledge and has become an immortal. Recall, O Lord, your great love for all that which has life, and forgive him his sin! Issue an order that he be called up to the heavens and be given a charge here, so that he may come to his senses. Then, if he again oversteps your commands, let him be punished without mercy" (Martens). I thought that this story could almost serve as a synopsis of the entire story, because it speaks about Sun's journey, how he was born out of the rocks and fertilized by the heavens. To me, this was the most powerful part of all of the readings. I am really glad that I got the opportunity to read this story, and like I said with Part A's reading, I will certainly be including this story (or at least the shorter excerpts as they are broken up) in my curriculum as a teacher shortly in the future.

Story: The Monkey King
Focus Story: The Lord of the Heavens

Reading Notes: The Monkey King Part A

The Monkey King: The Waterfall: Source
       For this Tuesday's reading, I chose "The Monkey King". I chose this story because back in 2017, a friend who is a Chinese major wanted to introduce me to his favorite Chinese movies, and this was one of them. The movie was interesting, to say the least. The story was entirely different from the movie rendition, which is to be expected, of course. Because of that, I am really glad that I chose to read the original story of the Monkey King, even though I did enjoy the movie. Like with last week's story of Aladdin, the two sources are entirely different but valuable for their own reasons. The same remains true for this week's reading, after going through all of Part A's stories for this reading I realized just how different the source material is from the goofy film that I saw a few years back. Reading about how the Monkey King was born out of rock and fertilized by the Heavens was so interesting, the story gets even more complex with his training as a warrior, and then takes a turn with his rebellion. I am interested to see the original story. Because this is a translation from Chinese to English, there are bound to be some alterations from the original source material. Because it is a retelling of ancient Chinese, rather than a direct translation, I wonder what is missing from the story? Or maybe what was added? Overall, I really enjoyed this story and the entire adventure. I am excited to read the second half of the readings to see what is in store for the adventure of the Monkey king. I am really glad that I got the chance to read this story, to expand my horizons with my knowledge of worldwide literature, and this is definitely a story that I will try to work into my curriculum as a teacher. 

Source: The Monkey King
Focus Story: Sun Wu Kung: The Master

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Week 6 Story Lab: Biography

Personal image of my brother Jackson, me, and my boyfriend, Jake. (In order left to right)

Hot Sauce

when I was eight years old, I created new daily plot to kill my four-year-old sister
I locked her outside in the “too scary” dark
I rolled her down the driveway in my “too big” rollerblades
I left her hanging at the mercy of the “too tall” monkey bars
I always knew my little sister was different,
shit, for a solid month of her four-year-old life the only word she would utter was “hot sauce”
thus, earning her the appropriate nickname
Hot Sauce

it was not until eighth grade that I realized just how “weird” that kid was
acting out in class, being sent home from school, never felt herself
my senior year of high school, Hot Sauces’ freshman year
we had a class together, physical science
I noticed that the name “Jackson” made a reoccurring appearance across her notebooks
The name scrawled in loving calligraphy obsessively across her lab journal
she must have had a crush
who is Jackson?”
I shouted at the top of my lungs, in perfect embarrassing big sister fashion
no one”
“just a pretty name”

a few short months later, a confession arose in the cosmetics section at Walmart
I need to tell you something…”
“I don’t feel that I am a girl…”
“this body does not feel like mine…”
those words hit me like a water balloon that wasn’t filled quite enough
rather than bursting it slaps the skin, falls to ground
in that moment I realized Jackson was a crush, sort of
someone untouchable, unobtainable, someone that Hot Sauce has longed for
I knew that when my brother said that Jackson was “no one”
he was right, this world made “Jackson” no one

I have been an ally as long as I could remember
but no amount of ally training prepared me for a transgender brother
how do I let him fight his own battles while looking out for him?
how do I advocate without infantilizing?
how do I sleep at night when I know that nearly half of all transgender teens will attempt suicide at some point in their life?
how do I protect him from the family member who tells him that he would be much prettier if he grew his hair out, if he quit wearing such boyish clothes?
how do I stop the bigots?
How do I stop my manager who I overheard say “oh, Mikayla has a shim for a sister”
how am I supposed to stop my little brother from hating his body more and more every day?
how do I stop the symptoms of female puberty?
what do I do when my brother has to change his pronouns around certain groups, certain family members for his own safety?

It’s been four years since my brother came out as transgender
and every gift addressed to a dead name is a fresh whip across his scarred back
at home, we still call him Hot Sauce
every time there is a substitute at school, the roll call still sounds like a car crash in slow motion
every “excuse me, miss” is the dodgeball in gym class that keeps finding its way to him
although I have made my mistakes
and admittedly at times been a bad ally
I have been fighting for my brother every day for the last four years
when we were kids, I plotted everyday to kill my little sister
but today

I am doing everything in my power to keep my brother alive

Authors Note:
       When I think about the bravest and most interesting person, I think about my brother, Jackson. He came out as Transgender his freshman year of high school, and seeing how he has grown from his journey is absolutely amazing, and I am so glad I got the chance to be there for it. I wrote this narrative style poem last semester, and I decided that I wanted a place to showcase it. I am unsure if this is technically within the rules, but I figured that this piece needed to be shown off, for Jackson's sake. I wish that I had more to say about this piece, but I hope that it just speaks for itself. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Reading Notes: Arabian Nights Part B

Cartoon depiction of Disney's Aladdin: Source

       As I mentioned with Part A of the readings, I was really looking forward to reading the Arabian Nights stories specifically because of reading Aladdin. Much like many children, I got lost in the world of Aladdin as a kid, the whimsical magic, incredible visuals, and easy to follow storylines were perfected by Disney to deliver a wonderful children's movie. The stories that I read this week are no different. Getting lost in the world of Aladdin is not hard to do, the stories are so mesmerizing, reading scenes such as, "Aladdin found everything as the magician had said, gathered some fruit off the trees, and, having got the lamp, arrived at the mouth of the cave. The magician cried out in a great hurry: "Make haste and give me the lamp." This Aladdin refused to do until he was out of the cave. The magician flew into a terrible passion, and throwing some more powder on the fire, he said something, and the stone rolled back into its place" (Ford). Obviously, the book to movie adaptation changes, which is bound to happen. However, one thing that translates back into the story is the amazing whimsical magic. The story is so vivid it is difficult to separate one's self from the reading, while immersed in the literature. I have no complaints with this, each part of the story, all six parts of "Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp" are chock full of adventure and storytelling. Like I mentioned in last week's reading notes, reading these stories sparked a child-like joy that I have not felt for literature in some time. Even though I had not read these stories, they felt almost nostalgic to be revisiting the story of Aladdin. In closing, I am grateful I got the opportunity to revisit these stories once more, to immerse myself in the exciting world of Aladdin and to go back on that journey once again. 
Bibliography: Arabian Nights.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Reading Notes: Arabian Nights Part A

Image of the cartoon (Disney) Aladdin: Source
       Like many, the majority of what I know about Arabian nights, or, 1001 Nights, is from the Disney cartoon Aladdin. These readings were quite wonderful, and I genuinely enjoyed my time reading the first half of the Arabian Nights stories. Being exposed to other cultures, specifically Middle Eastern counties literature, is very important to me. I took a World Literature course last semester where we read Season of Migration to the North, by Tayeb Salih (one of my favorite novels ever) and Kim by Rudyard Kipling. So I have been exposed to a fair amount of Eastern literature, but not nearly as much as I would like. Of course, I am looking forward to the second part of the readings where I get to read Aladdin, but these stories were still very intriguing. My favorite story of this bunch was "The Sultan and the Fish" because of the storytelling aspect. This story has Scheherazade telling a story about a genie and a fisherman. I think this story was the most useful one to me because it is the type of storytelling that I would personally like to participate in, I wish I could get better at this style of writing, and including dialogue. I truly loved the whimsical magical element of the story, the sheer amazement that is had by the sultan. It is a child-like wonder that is so deeply wholesome about this story, it reminds me of a lot of Aladdin, obviously, so it was easy to follow and to read. Overall, I was deeply interested in this story because of the correlation with one of my favorite childhood Disney films, as well as the Middle Eastern context. In closing, I am genuinely excited that I got to partake in reading these stories as a continuation of our Middle East / India unit, and I am pumped to read the remainder of the stories.

Bibliography: Arabian Nights
Bibliography: The Sultan and the Fish

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Week 5 Story: The Modern Buddha

Buddha Figure: Source
         Of course, everyone knows the story of THE Buddha. But what about those doing good for others without recognition. Those people who do right in the world without anyone ever knowing? Well, that is what my brother aimed to do when we were young. We are old and tired now, but when we were young, my brother and I would travel around to the poorest areas in the villages at night. We would drop off bread, clean water, and other necessary material goods. We wanted to be anonymous. Of course, we went our separate paths and I got married and had children, but my brother devoted his life to the public without ever once being publicly known, he never wanted any fame or fortune, he did not want the attention. In fact, he wanted quite the opposite. My brother is dead and gone now, so that is why I have finally decided to tell his story.

      My brother went to jail at age 17 and was away for 6 years. I do not want to go into the details, but he wanted to correct all of his "wrongs" that he was sent away for, so that is why he was inspired to do what he did. He especially did not want to be known because of his actions, which are unimportant, but explain why he did not want the notoriety.
      He went on, day in and day out delivering goods to orphans, run-down villages, etc. He made sure that no one went without. He suffered every single day so that no one else would have to, and to me, that erases all of the sins that he may have ever committed in this life or any other life before this. He worked every day of his life in construction after he was released from jail, he kept his nose down, never made a scene, never hurt a soul. All he did was provide for those who needed it most. He worked all day, then once the sun set, he set out to deliver all of the goods that people needed the most. People called him the modern Santa Claus, the Giver, they referred to him as the Buddha. People did not need to know who he was, just the good he provided.

Authors Note:
So, I was unsure about where to head with this story. I had a few ideas in mind, but nothing really sat right with me. Obviously, I rewrote the story of a modern Buddha, a man who gave more than he gave to himself- a man who lived without want, and provided for everyone else. I really enjoy how this story came out, and I hope that I will be able to expand upon this story here in the future! I hope you find within this story, thanks for the read!