Let your performance do the thinking. – Charlotte Bronte
from Sacramento CA
K333NG T with R&B Full
Good evening everyone and welcome to The Neighborhood. I am your host for A Star is Born and the second Performance of today’s special double header: Round VIII: Imitation of Life.
The Proxy Performance Round was simply amazing, and the performers did their team proud. But now it is time for the Main Event. 11 Started this journey back on October 13th, only 3 remain but sometime tomorrow, the Nominees for Best Performance of the Year will be further reduced to two.
But tonight, like they have done throughout, they must earn their spot in the Finals. Each was asked a single question, that is all. But it is the answer to the question that will determine if they rise or if they fall.
And without further adieu… Round VIII: Imitation of Life
Oscar Plascencia, Poet
La Puente California
Words fail me; they’re too limited in their ability to convey. I watch the world unfold around me in silence. Futile attempts at expressing myself result in stammering utterance. I stutter, they mock. I play the Mute. My childhood is spent walking around in silent wonder. A sense of resentment permeates my heart as I covet the ease and fluidity with which all those around me impart their feelings. I condition myself to believe that meekness is my weakness and fearfully accept it as my lot. I am compliant and tractable.
English as a second language is a breeze for my siblings to master, but I struggle in grade school and fail to comprehend why Spanish is not allowed. I naturally gravitate and bond with the girls in my class. Boys are crass and call me “queer”, yes I’m always the last one picked by default in any team activities. I bury my face in a book to express disinterest. The written words sway, swirl and march about the page like an army of ants, rearranging themselves, taunting and teasing: Run spot run. Read Oscar read!
I find solace in the arts and learn to express myself through dance, theatre, drawing and writing. But none of these completely eradicate my innate sense of not belonging. I push myself to excel creatively, but then demurely brush off all compliments. My speech is much improved, thanks to theatre, but often described as old-world, too serious and dramatic. I want to live and I want to love, but I’m afraid that I’ll be made fun of. I hurt, I bleed, I cry just like everyone else, why is it all lost in translation?
The distance from Heart to Head is long and feelings frequently loose their way. Those that survive the voyage arrive haggard and misconstrued only to be sputtered in my inadequacy. I chose the Pen as mediator and discovered a platform for Heart, Mind and Soul to speak as one. A lyrical form dominates my writing and a passion for poetry is born. Silverlake cafes and bookstores’ open mic awaken my mind to alternative means of expression. Love burrows itself into my heart and spawns twins named Hope and Faith. I court the trio for the next twenty years.
Fickle at best, Love, Hope and Faith have been in and out of my life shaping every stanza from day one. I have lived, I have loved, but no one can make fun of the pain, and tears I pen in translation for my stuttering heart. Once an observer of life watching it unfold with or without me, now a dedicated wordsmith interceding to preserve and honor Love in it’s myriad forms. It’s not a question of who I am, for I am a great many things, but rather a question of who I have become.
A meek and queer boy humiliated into insecurity finds his voice and pride in poetry. Words fail me; they’re too limited in their ability to convey.
Ned Hickson, Humorist
Am I an imitation or reflection of my art?
By Ned Hickson
For me, the line between life and art as a humorist is a blurry one. And it’s that way by design.Though my art is often satirical, taking things to extremes in order to offer perspective, much of what I create is inspired by real-life experience and observations as a father, husband,journalist, firefighter, human being and middle-aged male stripper.
Ok, fine. But if I were a stripper, there would be a lot of laughter involved.
My father told me something many years ago that I’ve tried to live by. Taking me aside one day, he draped his thick forearm around my shoulder and, in his wise voice, said to me, “You’re 18 now. Get out.”
But right after that, he gave me some advice I’ve never forgotten:
Do something well and the rest will take care of itself.
It’s been my approach to most everything in life since leaving home at 18. I had no college pursuits; just a desire to put my father’s advice into practice and see where it would take me. It helped me go from dishwasher to regional chef; 44-year-old firefighter recruit to Recruit of the Year; writing between laundry loads as a single father to award-winning newspaper columnist; ending a long unhappy marriage and finding a woman who inspires my heart and shares in my humor every day.
Like any artist, what I create is a reflection of myself. It’s offered from within and painstakingly crafted in hopes of engaging others. And while it may be painted in broad, satirical strokes, the canvas beneath has been stretched and stapled into place through my life’s experiences.
Is what I do as a humorist an imitation of life?
But I prefer to think of it as an invitation to life instead.
Rebecca Lemke, Mommy Blogger
Perhaps you can catch some small glimpses of who I am by looking back on my 19 years.
In the past, I accomplished many things. I was an award-winning photographer, I was a performer at places like the Oklahoma State Fair and the Oklahoma Opry, and I held offices within 4-H. Perhaps the most uncommon and unique thing is that I graduated high school at 15 and a half and began college immediately.
People said I was “driven” and “goal-oriented”, but the truth is, you won’t find who I am in those accomplishments. Not really. Who I am was forged in the difficult times, some of which I’ve made public, but a few that are still unknown.
Sure, there was our NICU stay, my journey of recovery from anorexia, and leaving behind the culture I grew up with. These are some of the most difficult parts of my life, but I’ve still kept a few secrets.
Some details stay buried, but this much can be said: I was the runaway who never looked back.
You can see the fundamental values and beliefs behind the actions I took during those times. They have shaped who I am.
What are the values and beliefs that I hold?
I am a young woman whose life has been shaped by the belief that the only two people who can save you are God and yourself. Other people can help by giving you the tools to accomplish this, but you have to decide to save yourself.
From this belief stems a desire to help others learn how to save themselves. I want to be someone who gives those tools, whether it be physical or emotional support, to those who are ready to take it. In some small ways, I have already achieved this through writing.
I don’t do this to be praised or recognized. I do it so that I never forget where I came from, what the pit of despair feels like, and what it took to rise above that. I do it so that I can be the person I needed during that time, so that no one has to go through that alone.
The truth is, I will always keep part of my past with me, whether I want to or not. I choose to hold the piece of the past gingerly in my heart and to use the wounds I have to help others.
So who am I?
I am a mix of who I was and who I want to be. I am a young woman who will forever struggle against the past while striving to create a better future. At my core, my heart aches to hear “you made a difference for me”.
There is always hope.