As part of a new content partnership with Nola Studiola, a collaborative online platform where various artists — visual and literary — curate the site with their own content for month-long “residencies,” we will feature monthly “dispatches” from Nola Studiola’s artists. The focus of this feature series will be the artists’ reflections on their curatorial work at Nola Studiola.
The inaugural Dispatch comes from Christianne Sanchez Robinson, an attorney in Houston, Texas, who professes to love words. Robinson’s works include a diary, short stories, various half-finished pieces, blog entries, articles for a now-defunct venture capital magazine in New York City, and a self-published novel.
Nola Studiola: Can you tell us a little about your experience as curator at Nola Studiola? Why did you do the month-long residency, what did you choose to focus on, and what did you get out of the experience?
CSR: I did the residency simply because it would prompt me to write. I’ve had my blog for many years, and I self-published my novel, but when I went to law school, my time and inspiration for writing anything else sort of fell off the map. I figured that a deadline would ensure I would do it. And so far it’s worked! I’ve posted pieces for three weeks in a row. I’m hopeful I’ll have the final two pieces complete and posted by the end of the month.
However, once I decided to do it, I had to figure out what the hell to write. I’ve had people tell me that they really enjoyed my book, and would like to read a sequel. But I wonder whether the characters in my novel have anything else to say. So I’m not sure about that one. I’ll have to keep thinking more about it.
I realized that I have something to say about relationships. It took me a long time to get here, but I’m married to the most wonderful guy on the planet. Writing an instruction manual on relationships wasn’t something new or different . When one of my friends pulled me aside at a party and said she couldn’t talk to me about her problems with her boyfriend because my relationship was so perfect, I almost laughed out loud. My story is unique and far from perfect. I thought maybe it was time to tell it.
Writing these pieces has been a pretty amazing journey. I delved into my journals and deep into my memory to recall each relationship . I tried to paint a picture of both my role and my boyfriends’ roles in each story. I knew I wasn’t blameless, and each relationship taught me something. It’s been hard to look back at the girl I used to be, but also so rewarding to see the woman I’ve become.
Here’s an excerpt from Christianne’s Nola Studiola writings; click here for the rest of the story:
I was a junior in high school when I met Alex. The phrase “high school sweetheart” perhaps could have applied when we first met: Alex was a grade behind me, and so earnest, so dogged, in his attempts to become my boyfriend it was almost painful to watch. …
He was a gangly 15 year old, acne on his face and some funky crooked teeth. His best feature was probably his big blue-green eyes. It was the ’90s, and he would show up for class in the baggy jeans and steel toe boots we all favored at the time, topped off with a cheap tee or a flannel shirt if it was cold. …
Alex spent most of his class time flirting with me, relentless in his pursuit. He would tell me later how hot I looked in those cheerleading skirts. No one had ever said those kinds of things to me before. Me, pretty? Me, with a nice ass and good legs? I still refused to go out with him. It wasn’t as if I had boys knocking down my door, but he just seemed like friend-zone material to me.
The thing that finally changed my mind, oddly enough, was the chicken pox. When I came down with it, I was out of school for weeks. Alex called me every day from newspaper class, telling me how much they (he) missed me, giving me the gossip from the day. He begged to come see me, but I was too vain to let him. He was the one boy who actually thought I was pretty—I couldn’t chance ruining that. Even if he was firmly in the friend zone, honestly, I liked the attention.
When the worst of the spots had faded, I acquiesced. However, I didn’t let him come see me. I was dying to get out of the house, and I was a newly licensed driver. My mother let me take her Acura to see him.
I can’t recall now if I’d been to his house before. I can picture it perfectly now—a modest one story with three bedrooms, a two-car garage that had been converted into what I suppose we now call a “media room”—at the time, remember, the ’90s—it was the movie room, or the den. I’m sure that Alex greeted me at the door before his parents or his brother could interfere.
This was a big deal for him.
We crossed the shabby living room to his bedroom, which was painted a garish blue and had the requisite boy posters tacked to the walls with actual push pins. Sports, girls, bands. I don’t recall what we did exactly, probably sat uncomfortably on his bed and talked about school and my recent illness and recovery. I do know that at some point he leaned in to kiss me, and I didn’t push him away or pull back like I had so many times before. You might say I had given in. Or given up.