The Truth Board

A Blog by the Editors of
The Truth About the Fact: An International Journal of Literary Nonfiction

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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

The Truth About the Fact: A Journal of Literary Nonfiction is an international journal committed to the idea that excellence in the art of letters can play a vital role in transforming the planet we share.

Friday, March 22, 2013

What's Your Persona?

As human beings we are constantly evolving: physically, mentally and emotionally. During our evolution we develop a personality, a personality that can change with age and experience. However, if our personality remains stagnant it is still difficult to “render all at once the entire complexity of a personality” (Phillip Lopate). In our everyday encounters we offer a mere fragment of ourselves: one mask or persona. If we remove one of the masks, it is only to substitute it with another. When we allow a person to get to know us, our entire being, all of our personas will then accumulate, to what we hope, is an honest unmasking. An unmasking that unites all of our fragments, creating one self. A self that reflects the authenticity of our being. Until that moment, we pick and choose the fragments of ourselves we wish to portray to our selected audience. In a world consumed by social media, the personas unmasked on Facebook are constantly evolving as the user updates their newsfeed.

I have realized through my own Facebook persona and observation of other users, that there is a lot of overlap in personalities and personal agendas. This overlapping factor is the need or urge to self-present, while Facebook mediates how we accomplish this, through our relations and abilities to reach one another. Although Facebook gratifies its users in different ways depending on their individual personalities, it was still founded upon an architecture that has a large influence on how it’s used and who is likely to use it. The site limits how users can change the appearance of their profile pages. Unlike Myspace, where users could develop their own template, include a theme song for their page, and upload various icons, Facebook has eliminated that clutter or opportunity for creativity. On Facebook, the only opportunity for creativity is through uploading photographs. A person’s personality can be developed through these photographs or via their usage of the site and how they interact with other users. This allows Facebook’s users to have multiple personas.
I do recognize that my Facebook personas have constantly changed and change more so then I like to think. These fragments of my self that have been spread across this site, at one time or another, have been a part of me. They depict who I am, who my friends are, where I’ve traveled and what I’ve done. They shed light into one of my many personas. I won’t ever be fully unmasked to the public eye, the unmasking I save for those I believe matter.

-Andrea N.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Where is Home?

As graduation approaches, my introspective nature has kicked into overdrive. What do you want to do with your life? What career do you want to go into? Where am I going to live? But out of all of these questions that race through my mind, the most important questions are the ones about home: Where do I want to make myself a home? Where do I feel at home?

I'm originally from Belmont, Massachusetts, and when I think about going back, I always think about it as "coming home" or "visiting home." However, occasionally I slip up and refer to my apartment in West Hollywood, while I'm living at school as "home."But I just don't see myself staying here in L.A. after graduation, for financial reasons in particular, but especially because I didn't put a lot of time into putting down roots—whether they be platonic or romantic. So if L.A. isn't going to be my home, what next?

I want to go to D.C. to explore the world of political media—perhaps get an internship at CNN or MSNBC. But a job isn't key to making a place a home, just like going to school somewhere doesn't make a place a home either.

With all of this distance separating my life in L.A. and my life in Boston, I recognize the traditional aspects of family that I miss—and probably would never have missed had I not moved across the country for college. For away from Massachusetts, I've grown to love and appreciate the uniqueness of people who live in Boston. I adore the previously irritating quirks of my parents.

So as I muse about my future and where I want to live, something always draws me back to Boston. It's a great place for my liberal politics. I have roots there. I have a supportive family there. But is it where I want to settle down? Yes, Boston is where I feel "safe," but if I put the social effort into creating a supportive atmosphere elsewhere (perhaps a little closer to my family), who's to say that a new place can't be my "home?"

-Mikayla Galvin

Gestures; almost Strange

Love Lorena Brothers
I've come here to say "I Love You"

Hello stranger, I am sad today
I walked in late; you smiled and waved to me
You appeared excited to see me
We don’t know each other
We have never spoken before
I smiled back at you
I felt like I knew you
You must know love
What were you thinking?

Stranger, I felt down today
I saw the way you looked me up and down,
Judging from head to toe
It made me feel worse about myself
You know nothing about me
If you only knew how much I’d love you
I am from nowhere,
You can’t possibly be from here
If I were a child would you smile?

Hello sir, I saw that you looked sad
I stopped, concerned about your sadness,
I said, “Why do butterflies fly away”
I smiled ear to ear
Which made you smile
We would never grasp that answer
This strange encounter set forth the beat,
For the rhythm of today
Should we slow down and listen?

Hello Ma’am, It’s cold outside
You look so tired, possibly homeless
I bought you a cup of coffee when I got mine
As I handed it to you, you smiled and looked deep into my eyes
Your gratitude reached my heart
I love you because you are a person,
You deserve to be warm
“The sun will come out soon,” I said as I walked away
This made You and I feel happy

Women in India

One of the most fascinating aspects of India’s culture was the fact that women have limited rights compared to men. From hotel security, to airport security, to security at museums, women are always segregated into a different lines that men. I was confused by this at first and did not accept this until the end of my trip. I think of myself just as equally as any man that I have ever encountered. I can make just as much money as any man, drive the same car as any man in the states, but in India, my ideas seemed outrageous. I had to accept the fact that I am a visitor in their country and I need to abide by their rules. This included being fully dressed from head to toe with nothing but the skin on my face showing, in order to not attract unwanted attention to myself. Despite how hot and humid the weather was in March, I played it safe and left my “hipster” garb in America. While traveling the country, I did realize how Indian women are demanding change and raising their voice about the recent rape stories occurring around the country. Women in the major cities (i.e. Delhi, Mumbai) have a louder voice, and argue that justice is demanded after the recent rape case of a lower caste Indian woman riding the bus home. In any city throughout India, when a rape case occurs, trials for the men who are suspected can last up to fifteen years behind bars, until the story is forgotten and they are free to leave. There is no justice, laws, or law enforcement against these crimes, so men keep raping women and children, knowing they will get away with it. A new law was enforced in Delhi, where any buses with drapes on the windows have to be removed. The government hopes this will prevent more rape cases from occurring. The fact is that removing drapes will not stop one man from raping his next victim.
However, the women in the south have a different viewpoint regarding women’s rights. The more rural villages and towns believe in arranged marriages, and no rights for women at all. The woman’s job is to marry young, start a family, cook, and clean for the husband. The woman has no education, while the husband is the bread winner and decision maker of the family. These types of beliefs are more common among women throughout India, because this is the way things have always been. Change in society, especially regarding women right’s, is not accepted. They want to be the best wife to their husband, even if that means rape, incest, beatings, and men controlling everything about the wife. Divorce is not a popular belief in their culture, so these women have limited options. I was told that most women are committed until their death, despite how unhappy they may have been their whole life.
I was able to hear both sides of the story regarding this controversial topic. After immersing myself in their culture, I understand the conflicts both sides face. My hope is that one day the country can come to a peaceful agreement.

~Cristina  Mollis

My journey to India

For the last 18 days, I have been traveling all over India visiting major cities and sacred burial grounds. I thought of my last Spring Break as an opportunity to travel to a third world country, and help people that will benefit from my efforts. I took a loan out to pay for my traveling expenses because traveling to India comes at a high price. My main goal was to build water filtration systems in villages that do not have clean drinking water or electricity. I traveled to one of the most sacred cities in India located on the Ganges River, called Varanasi. I was amazed to see how poor this community was, yet how happy and sincere the people were to me. The people of this area commit their whole life to their religion, Hinduism. The photo above was taken before sunrise in this holy city. I watched as men, woman, and children prayed, and then bathed their bodies in the cold river. This is a sacred ritual of cleansing the mind, body, and soul despite how dirty the river was. Every morning before the sun rises, a Brahman, which is the highest ranking official in the Hindu religion, sings and dances on a platform overlooking the river. He rings bells and chimes that create a loud noise, which was hard not to witness. He dances around with a gold cup in his hand that has smoke and incense coming out of it. The people of this town walk by the Brahman, not amused by his dance and rhythm. On the other hand, I had to stop and stare at this ritual that was performed in front of me. I was amazed to see this man who has given up his whole life, family, dreams, aspirations, so he can only desire and focus his religion.
Since I have been back in LA, every morning when I wake up to start my day, I think of this Brahman doing his dance and singing his song to welcome the sun and the start of a new day. The simplest things in life that we all take for granted (i.e. the sun rising) has allowed me to look at the every morning with a new light, opportunity, blessing, and the start of a new beginning. 

~Cristina Mollis

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Lake Lagunita

Abandoned by common man,
This Lake of Love stands alone.
Its emptiness engulfs me,
But I am not on my own.

The birds have migrated,
Even the creek water has gone.
The land cries out sadly
Without the Robin’s song.

The wind whips my hair
And my jacket flies away.
So loud and obnoxious,
My parents cannot hear what I say.

At the edge of the bluff I stand
And I look out below.
Stanford campus stares back at me
Do these students not know?

Do they not know about this land?
Do they just choose not to see?
Take a walk up the hill
And withdraw from society:

The bustling crowds,
The endless nights up,
Adderall, papers,
Starbucks and such.

Walk away from this scene
Which can’t be called life.
Find your own lake of love
In which you will thrive

- Carmen Iben

Monday, March 18, 2013

Skating With Words.

Skating With Words

            Several weekends ago, the US Figure Skating Championships were showcased in Omaha, Nebraska, and as one of those former ‘twirl girls,’ I found myself defending, yet again, all the positive characteristics of this often-overlooked ‘sport.’ While watching the Champions’ Skate one Saturday afternoon, I, unlike my half-asleep peers, sat in awestruck wonder, amazed at the determination and grace that was exhibited in each routine. I was reminded, in those moments of happy nostalgia, how appealing skating had been for me-- and how it can, at least for some people, remain such a beautiful art of expression-- even after all of these years. As I watched the skaters glide off the ice and into the arms of their beaming coaches, it got me thinking: Writing, in a sense, is also an extraordinarily unique form of self-expression. Like skaters, writers often go unacknowledged, and good literary pieces, like skating, are often horribly misunderstood.
            But if writing were truly like figure skating, I couldn’t help but wonder: Wouldn’t it be wonderful to receive a hug after every writing session? Or to have a boatload of roses thrown around our desks after five hours of sitting in our chairs? Then again, it wouldn’t be so grand to hear a groan or a moan every time readers aren’t impressed with a character or a certain plot turn-- like the crowd usually does every time a skater bobbles or falls down.
             Despite the questions surrounding both forms of ‘expression,’ I, as a writer (and a skater), have always seen both activities as a journey of self-discovery. Not only do skating and writing both communicate to a specific audience, but they also, in my mind, help individuals learn valuable things about themselves. As a young girl, skating brought me a sense of confidence, and as a young adult, writing has been known to provide me with feelings of calm, accomplishment, and utter satisfaction. The process of putting a pen to paper allows me to dance with words, spin with anecdotes, and twirl out all of my frustrations. On the ice, my thoughts are expressed through kinetic movements, and when writing, an illuminating idea is first born into the mind and then successfully transcribed onto a piece of paper.
              Yet, within the creative processes of both, I may, at times, falter. I might miss a few steps, lose my balance, swivel off beat, and fall down on many jumps. The worry of an upcoming deadline, like a competition, often causes me to begin doubting my abilities when the task becomes too difficult. Yet, on some days, when I’m lucky, the words can fly as gracefully out of my mind as an axel or a Lutz jump can after weeks of aches and bruises. These triumphs, however, do not stop me from continuing to trudge on with blood, sweat, and a lot of tears. Because as with writing, the jumps and the spins only get better when sufficient time and motivation are put into the creative process.
               Figure skaters may be famous for caking on their makeup and wearing frighteningly immense amounts of glitter. Writers, on the other hand, can pen something even when sporting pajama bottoms and soft ballet slippers—which I have been known to do at the most unusual of morning hours. Yet, if you think about it, it all comes down to the same thing-- loving the process enough to stick with it even through the worst of days. To be able to remain tirelessly in that chair even through the most horrific case of writers’ block. Or to keep your skates on the ice even when your knees are sore and your legs are both black and blue. In the processes of both, we are just hoping for the outcome of a flawless routine or an insightful, cleverly written work of fiction (or nonfiction). But at the end of the day, we are generally just thankful to have gotten the job done well. We are thankful to have been given the opportunity to bring stories to life on the ice or onto the page. Writers and skaters are one and the same. We sway to words, we feel the meanings we wish to express, and we most definitely type to a certain rhythm with every piece we intend to create.


Sunday, March 17, 2013

Django: Tightened Chains

I have seen Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained three times. I became obsessed with its inaccuracies and with the audacity that Mr. Tarantino had to contemplate molding the subject of slavery into an adventurous Western. My view of the film as being problematic spans further than the controversy surrounding the movie’s use of violence and degrading vocabulary; slavery was, in fact, an institution built on violence and degradation. Nor is it because of the fact that a white man chose to touch the topic of slavery; the topic of slavery needs to be touched and explored so that we can understand our country’s atrocious past and fully recognize the legacy of this violent institution that lives on in our postmodern society. The bulk of my frustration rests within Tarantino’s glorification of white men throughout the film.
Django, played by Jamie Foxx, is the protagonist of Tarantino’s film; audiences follow Django on his revenge- and passion-fueled journey that he embarks on following his release from slavery. We watch Django torture and kill his former masters and reunite with and free Broomhilda, the love of his life. Yet Django’s spotlight is overshadowed by white men throughout the entirety of the film, namely Christoph Waltz’s character of Dr. King Schultz and Leonardo DiCaprio’s character, Calvin Candy. Django gains his freedom through Schultz, therefore making Schultz the catalyst for Django’s heroism; without Schultz, Django would have remained enslaved and his heroic adventure would not have happened. Tarantino has described Schultz and Django as a “Butch and Sundance kind of team,” thus implying that Django’s actions were completely dependent on assistance from Schultz.  Calvin Candy stands as another problematic white figure within Django. Candy is far from a heroic catalyst within the film; he is, in fact, quite the opposite and fulfills the role of the film’s villain. However, it could be said that Candy is the true star of the film. We see Candy clothed in beautiful, rich and deep colored velvet suits. His hands are constantly adorned with extravagant rings and he is portrayed as having a quirky adoration of coconut cocktails. Tarantino floods his film with constant close-ups of this grand character, ultimately resulting in the glorification of Calvin Candy.
Django Unchained is a great film; a cinematic masterpiece that has revived the Spaghetti Western for contemporary audiences. The storyline is flawless, the characters are perfectly developed, and the cinematography is fantastic. The silver lining surrounding the film is the conversation that it has sparked. Tarantino ingeniously used film, a medium that he understood society is comfortable discussing, to open up a subject that has remained off limits or spoken of in whispers within our society. Yet, Django is flawed in its Eurocentric focus on and glorification of white males throughout the film. While Tarantino succeeded in opening up a discussion about U.S. slavery, his film fell short due to its centricity upon white males within a subject that so clearly needed to be centered upon its victims.

Friday, March 15, 2013

The First Concert

            “Hey Diana, look what we bought you for your fourteen birthday”
            “Oh my God!!! Metallica tickets!” I yelled as I ran to snatch the tickets. 
            It was the first concert I attended so I was sweating from excitement.  I had been a big fan since I was eleven so I practically knew every lyric of every album.  My parents had bought the tickets a week before the concert which took place on March 6th, 2004 at The Great Western Forum in Inglewood, California.  I looked at the ticket as if it was the Holy Grail and wondered what was going to happen.
            The first time I heard the band play was in 2001 when my brother borrowed some cds from his friends.  At first I couldn’t keep up with the music because the drum beats and guitar riffs are fast but that’s what thrash metal is all about but at least they don’t growl or scream while they sing.  I continued to listen and began to keep up with the hottest lead singer ever!  The lyrics became clearer and they flowed nicely with the rhythms.  Music can’t get any faster than Metallica’s, well it can in other metal subgenres but I think of that as pure senseless noise.  After hearing the first four legendary albums I became an instant headbanger and may I add the best air guitarist ever.
            Finally, after surviving the longest days of my life, March 6th arrived.  It was time to bring out the metalhead uniform: black clothing, black eyeliner, boots and some wristbands.  I was ready.  I was instantly greeted by other fans that made me feel welcomed.  Some yelled, “Yeaah!” while they greeted me, others threw the “metal horns” gestures and some complimented my shirt.  It was one big happy (maybe scary to some) family.  There were tailgates everywhere I turned and different songs were being sung.  I’m sure that if I looked older they would have given me a beer.
            I entered the steamy forum where I was surrounded by anxious fans waiting for the show to begin.  The forum turned black but it was soon lighten up by thousands of lighters and I was one of them who kept burning my finger as I held it up.  “The Ecstasy of Gold” from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly was the introductory song and once it finished Metallica popped up as pyrotechnics flared.  We all start singing “Blackened” and I could see the people in the mosh pits get thrown around as if they were fighting.  I had never seen anything like it but the sensation of witnessing everything was like a drug, I couldn’t stop jumping and shouting the lyrics.  The next song that played was “Creeping Death” where I’m sure every security guard feared for their life.  At one point of the song we kept throwing our fist in the air singing, “Die, die, die!”  I looked over the crowd and it was a like a wave of soldiers saluting their leaders.
            The concert went on for about four hours and that was perhaps the best four hours of my life even though I lost my voice.  I have gone to various concerts but none can compare to that one.