The Revolution is Here

It was 2011, the Walker protests were in full force in Wisconsin. We were the leaders of the movement on our campus. We rented out three buses every day to take people from Stevens Point to Madison to protest in the streets of the capitol. I’ll never forget walking arm-in-arm with Gregs on the first day of the all campus walk out. We thought nothing was going to happen that day, but we got to the sundial and a rage of students marched around the NFAC building and we were filled with absolute joy, that people finally gave a shit about what was going on around them and using their power to stand up and resist it.

In this emotionally charged time it is not these protests that spark my current memory, but more of the words of a psychology professor whose class I was failing. One day I stayed after class to tell him that I was failing. He asked me if I was sure and I told him it is impossible that I am not, as I’ve failed both tests and haven’t turned in any assignments. He did the calculations and it turned out even if I got a 100% on the final and turned in my last assignment I still wouldn’t have enough to pass the class. He gave me a reprieve though, if I turned in everything and got 3 or less wrong on the final he would pass me regardless.

He told me, “Listen, I know that the reason you’re missing class all the time is because of all the protests and walkouts, but you can’t let that distract you from getting what you want out of life. It’s a great thing what you students are doing and it matters, but you have to take care of yourself too. You’re supposed to graduate this semester, don’t lose focus of that for this because when this is all over, where will you be?”

This is important right now because we’re all losing focus. We are all getting wrapped up in the ignorance and hate rhetoric of both sides. It feels like we’re riding the swell of a tsunami that’s about to come crashing down around us and it feels terrifying and worrisome and awe-inspiring and beautiful all at the same time. And as I see myself getting wrapped up in the whole messiness of the situation I find myself now asking the same question, when this is all over, where will I be? Where will we all be?

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A Memory from the Memory Bank

This famous Russian poet, Yuvgheni Yuvtushenko, came to our lecture in college. He was from the Beat Generation, my favourite literary movement! Well, he was good friends with Alan Ginsberg, my favourite poet. So I go up to him after class and I ask him about his time with Ginsberg. He told me that Ginsberg called him while he was visiting New York and wanted to see him and for whatever reason Yuvgheni was too busy. Well, shortly after Ginsberg dies and Yuvgheni now carries this guilt with him for never seeing him when he reached out. Then he looks me square in the eyes and said, “It taught me something and make sure you don’t make the same mistake in your life, if you love somebody, make time for them because you never know how much they have.”

Interview – Lybra Ray Olbrantz

I was interviewed by Felan 🙂

fēlan

lroPlease tell us a bit about yourself.
I was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I won the 1st grade spelling bee! I graduated with a BA in Communications: Journalism in 2011. My last semester was spent abroad in London, UK. My favourite place in the world is Parque Lage in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I have a tattoo of South America on my left palm. My favourite artist is Beatriz Milhazes. I love how the word ‘peculiar’ sounds in a British accent. I drink Yogi tea because I love the positive fortunes on each tea bag. My favourite thing to listen to when I drop into an art flow is the Nicolas Jaar BBC Essential Mix. I’m falling in love with a boy from Egypt 😀
When you create, what inspires you?
Colours. Colours are the most inspirational thing for me. Sometimes visions come to be of images that…

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Grandpa’s Last Romantic Gesture

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I love my grandpa. He was such a rare person. He didn’t need much to make him happy. He fixed everything himself and made things for everyone in the family. I remember when I was little he was so proud of this invention he made to figure out which direction the wind was blowing. He put like two or three of them on his clothesline right away. He was intrigued with the small things and made sure to share those same small joys with us when we were little. He showed me what happens when you put a magnifying glass to the Sunday newspaper in the sunlight. He would let me turn the church organ on in his living room every time we visited even though I didn’t know how to play, I just wanted to hear the different noises that came out in various tones when I changed the instrument styles. Every Halloween my parents would take me trick-or-treating in his neighborhood because it was safer and he would always give me my first two pieces before I embarked on my journey. He kept Mamaro and my aunts Barbies over all the years and recycled them through all the grandchildren. I was so happy every Sunday just playing dress up on the living room floor and he never minded. He just enjoyed a very simple life. He always had a black lab as his chosen pet companion, when one died he went and got another one or someone would get one for him, but always a black lab. He ate soup and sandwiches for lunch everyday and for a snack on the side a slice of bread with butter and jam. If he got really risque he’d bring the cookies out and for those very often rare and special occasions, ice cream would grace our presence.

He spent his whole life working and taking care of his family. Everyone would say he only cared about the money, but I think it was the only way he could show he cared for his family because he always made sure everyone was taken care of and that they understood the true value of money. When grandma died he never dated another woman, maybe he checked out a few women along the 36 year journey alone, but he would never ever be with another woman again. He even died on her birthday, December 29th, which is why I think it was his last romantic gesture. A true symbol of his devotion and even though he probably drove her mad, I’m sure she came to get him and bring him to Heaven with her.

He didn’t always tell us he loved us every time we saw him, but he had small gestures that showed he really cared. When we were cleaning out his house a year ago we found a drawing I did when I was a kid stored in the drawer in the living room. He kept each senior photo of his kids on the living room wall and each of their wedding photos on the hallway walls.

A few years ago we were sitting in the living room of his house. Him in his goldenrod, prickly pear 70’s retro chair. I asked him, “Where’s your favourite place in the world?”

He responded, “Right here.”

I said, “Really?”

To which he replied, “Of course, why else would I stay here this long?”

This conversation alone pretty much sums up the whole life experience I had with my grandpa. I wouldn’t say he was necessarily stubborn, I think he just knew what he liked and what made him happy and it was the simple things that maybe everyone else in the world today seems to be forgetting.

5.21.23-12.29.16

Francis Leary Sr.