From The Time I Was A Young Girl…

From The Time I Was A Young Girl I Never Believed in Good Fortune, Favors, Or Fairy Tale Endings Cause I Found Too Many Frayed Plot Lines and Frazzled Characters In My Favorite Cereals, Soups, Story Bowls and Saturday Morning Cartoons, Where Truths Remain That Sometimes Beauty Hidden In The Beast Remains Hidden Which is Too Bad For Me — And My BoyThere Are Some Things That We Never Outgrow and Which Never Outgrow Us, So I Say — Welcome To My Forever Land, A Land Of False Hope, Beastly Becomings, and A Mama’s Love For Her Boy.

Locks turn right. Keys clank.

Huddled whispers. Spilled secrets.

Bodies drift to sleep.

Noise persists. Mattress coils squeak. Guard boots tap. The television, on the far corner of the desk across the hall, streams reruns. And static. Unfamiliar sitcoms with familiar fake laughter. The whistle of a teapot. Boiling water. I think of Beauty. The Beast, too. My boy’s favorite fairy tale. The others stir on open cots and available benches. My body tenses and my eyes wander. County Jail, how unfortunate to make your acquaintance. You’re cold. Unwelcoming. Unfamiliar. Downright confusing. And you stink. A most undesirable plot twist. I long for air freshener. Cherry or grape. Yet choice remains off limits on this side of the cinder block. Minutes tick nevertheless. Always onward. I wonder how I got here. And when will help arrive.

Jen Schneider

What is the significance of this work to you?

The piece is no more and no less than a mirror of collected reflections and captured stories. Images, angles, curves, dream — they are subject to and indicators, if not creators, of perpetual change, constant motion, blurred memories, and contextualized truths. The work seeks to capture and perhaps memorialize, if only for a moment, the value inherent in those moments, often fleeting, where memory crystallizes in ways that yield new learning, heightened awareness, and deeper understanding of self and others.

What is the significance of the form you chose for this work?

The form reflects the bits and pieces of story wrapped into the piece. Choice of form is deliberately and intentionally varied, hopefully in a way that helps convey the individual and the individual story (including nuances, peaks, valleys, texture, etc.) that are the subject of the piece. The goal is to both push back against categorizations as a matter of form or otherwise.

What was your process for creating this work?

Like the bits and pieces of story curated, collected, and then shared by way of reflection in the work, the associated creation process is also one of curation, collection, and reflection. Choice of words, lines, length, rhythm, breaks, etc. are all dependent upon the nature of the associated story and the moment in which it is visited and/or revisited.

Jen Schneider is an educator, attorney, and writer. She lives, writes, and works in small spaces throughout Philadelphia. Recent work appears in The Popular Culture Studies Journal, Toho Journal, The New Verse News, Zingara Poetry Review, Streetlight Magazine, Chaleur Magazine, LSE Review of Books, and other literary and scholarly journals. 

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