I like musicals. Growing up, I watched Fiddler on the Roof an inordinate number of times for a Gentile. My church performed a heavily attended production of Scrooge: The Musical for over a decade and I was twice an urchin. High School Musical was a guilty pleasure, but by the third iteration, my gusto had been repressed.
I guess I like singing and dancing. I’m not passionate about them and I guess I could imagine my life without them. Though I liked performing, I made sure I considered the Scrooge makeup palettes of face paint, rather than the same products women use for beautifying. But, as I came to terms with musicals being one of a few of my favorite things, I perceived that I like them because they get across something that you can’t express any other way.
It’s not that I want to live in a city where every resident is waiting for the maestro’s downbeat to begin synchronized body movements and elongated vocalizations; it’s just that I think it’s marvelous that telling a story in this manner says something in a tone you can’t carry in a lecture or palaver.
I also like writing. I’ve inflated this passion on some job applications gasconading, “Whether it’s a poem or a data analysis report, as long as I’m putting things on paper, I’m happy.” I’m not a numbers guy though, nor a poet, and the white lie didn’t lead to a job anyway. Still, I do like starting with an empty sheet of paper, especially when it’s in a spiral-bound notebook.
Don’t misunderstand how I’m describing myself, though. I’m not one of those classmates I had, who, prior to a standardized test, pressed their skirts and asked if we would need No. 2 pencils and what should we do if that pencil breaks or if I have to use the bathroom? They already knew the answers and were, in fact, the only ones who could identify a No. 2 from any number of writing utensils. They were the poster children of type A, strung as high as the bows around their ponytails. I like empty sheets of paper not out of neatness or cleanness, but for the potential it holds.
I do like smoothing my paper, not unlike the classmates smoothing their skirts, before writing, and writing with exact and precise penmanship. One of those classmates accused me of pen-wo-manship in seventh-grade Spanish. To reverse her charge of “writing like a girl,” I started scrawling. My dad, a psychology major, informed me this was a manifestation of insecurity of my whole self, which seemed melodramatic, though I knew it was true because it’s the same feeling I’d have if I were to talk about liking musicals at a moose lodge meeting.
When I edit what I’ve written, I feel rebellious in marking it up. My arrows moving sections around are intentionally drawn to appear messy. I like crossing things out and writing corrections in small print perpendicular to the main text. I scrawl edits like I once scrawled agua and baño.
I like typing the mess I’ve made on paper into a Word document on the computer. I like restructuring the content when I find that certain paragraphs go better together than separate.
There was a time, when I was one of those No. 2 classmates with the hypochondriacal bladder, that I disliked restructuring my pieces of literature. I would have much rather had my work returned blood-soaked with ink correcting grammar and punctuation errors than wayward arrows addressing wrong tones and forgetting one’s audience. Now, I see the beauty in that. It gives me more opportunities to create and develop the artist I think I am.
I like how writing is sometimes like working a crossword puzzle, another thing with which I have a sensual relationship. When I think of witty wordplay or when the sentences seem to flow from my fingers, it’s like filling in a quadrant of a crossword, the cubical farm of four- and five-letter words, without even needing to look at the clues. But then you get stuck with a phrase-clue that extends into the next section of the puzzle and you don’t know how to transition your wit into your thesis.
Like musicals, I like writing things in ways you can’t say orally. Satire can persuade faster than an essay. You can use run-on sentences and misspell to make puns. You can invent words or find out that you’ve been using a word incorrectly your entire life.
It seems rococo to say these things, but it’s who I am, so long as my dad and the local moose lodge don’t read this, I don’t care who knows it!
Scot Bellavia can be followed on Facebook.