Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Web

I did not complete NaNoWriMo. I got busy. I wrote 11,000 words approximately. That's still good, even if I didn't finish.

48/52 for 2012...because I am compelled to finish that.

People have been asking since the dawn of thought what our purpose is here. This is probably the most depressing pursuit a person can have, because it makes most day-to-day activities meaningless. I was thinking about those meaningless things today, what I call "The Web" and at first I was feeling lost without purpose. However, stuff exists for a reason, even if we don't know what that reason is, and so there must be purpose in the individual things.

Take my trip to CVS today. I went to CVS to get a razor so that I could shave my legs. I was shaving my legs because I haven't done it in awhile. I haven't done it in awhile because no body was going to see them or touch them. This week my friends and I are getting photos done. Someone will see those photos, and so I needed to shave my legs. The reason we were doing the photo shoot was to have nice pictures for our respective SOs. They like to see us looking nice. We want them to see the photos because we like the way they react.

Okay so that is an example of The Web. A whole bunch of seemingly meaningless things lead to a center thing. However, I was getting very caught up in the trip to CVS. My mind breezed over the other stuff. It was just one more thing I had to do in an endless stream of stuff. As a kid life was simple, and thus meaningful. You did one thing, you got one result. As life became more complicated, there were more steps in between. The trick is to find the meaning in the steps, and not to always be thinking of the end.

So this is what happened. I found what I needed. I went to check out. The guy at the checkout was really nice to me. Keep in mind it's 9:30 on a Saturday night and he is working and I am a pretty girl buying a razor. However, I've worked retail, and it is hard to be nice to even the prettiest, easiest of customers when you are working late on a Saturday night. He made me feel better, and I appreciated how hard it was for him to do that.

And so I started to think about it differently. What if the purposes are all the same? If being nice is the motivating factor for being nice (in a perfect world, keep in mind), then the steps aren't meaningless. That guy was nice to me. I felt better, happier. I was giving money to him, not causing him any trouble, and getting something I needed (two things, if you count the razor) in return.

So then expand to the example Web I gave earlier. Simply, it is that I needed to go to CVS to make my boyfriend happy. Better, it is that I needed to go to CVS so that I could feel the chill in the air that I love and so that my car would warm up after sitting all day. I needed the razor because I appreciate being able to buy things with my money, money that I worked hard for. It helps that I found the exact thing that I was looking for. I'm shaving my legs because I like the way it feels and looks. I'm doing the photo shoot because I like the way that I look and I want to spend time with my friends having fun. I'm giving the photos to my boyfriend because he likes them and I like to see his face when he looks at them. Everything that I do is being nice to me or to someone else - in the hopes that someone will be nice to me in return.

So what if it is all about being nice. The reason people are nice is so that they will continue to be nice. You do one thing in The Web, not to facilitate the next thing, but to continue the thread of niceness. I don't know if this will make sense to anyone else. If it does, I hope that it comforts you, makes you feel better, makes you want to be nice and consider all the nice things happening to you.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Excerpt from "100 Things"

Hey everyone! Check out this excerpt from my NaNoWriMo novel. I'm just trying to get words on paper at the moment, but I'm really concerned that the voice of the character is boring because he doesn't know a wide range of vocabulary or sentence structures. What do you guys think?

Go to the movies with friends

I can only go to the mall with my Mom. I can never see movies that I want to see because she always has to come with me. I like to see the same movies as my other classmates. But they get to go on their own so they see all of the movies and I never do. So then we can’t talk about the movies.  

My mom is always worried that some bad stranger is going to come find me because they always find kids like me who have disabilities. I try to tell my Mom that I’m not dumb and that I won’t go off with strangers but then she asks me if I would if they said they knew her and I say yes. That’s not the right answer because she doesn’t want me to believe lies. So she always goes with me.

None of the other kids in my class are allowed to go to the movies by themselves either. For some of them it is because they might get sick when they are at the movies and then their friends won’t know how to help. Like Sarah who has epilepsy. Plus then the other kids might freak out and not want us to go to the movies with them.

No one ever asked me to go to the movies with them. I figured I would meet them there one day when I was by myself and they’d be like, “Hey, we’re going to see this movie. Wanna come?” And then I could say yeah that I want to come and then I would make a friend. Especially if I stood by the movie theater. kids from my school go there because I’ve seen them.

When I’m with my Mom and I see people I know, I always hide in the arcade. Mom says I’m being silly when I do that, but I think I’m old enough to be on my own and they’d think I was a baby. The janitors always yell at me when I hide in the arcade because they are scared I might break something.

No one thinks I should do anything by myself because of my Down Syndrome. They don’t think I can because they say I look stupid. When they talk to my Mom they always say liability. I don’t know what that means but it seems like it means your stupid kid can’t do stuff on his own. And that’s mean.

I’m not stupid and I can go to the movies on my own so I can make friends. If I made friends we could talk about the movies we saw. No I can only talk about baby movies and romances because that’s all my Mom lets me see. I want to see rated R movies and action and horror movies like Saw. I heard people talking about that movie once and all the bloody hands and jumping out parts. If I was cool I could talk about that stuff too.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hurricane Sandy at Stoney Beach

NaNoWriMo starts in two days. Meanwhile, I've spent the last two days off of work for the hurricane not doing much. It's amazing how when I have the time to write, I can't bring myself to, but when I'm busy busy busy I'm always more inspired.

The rain washes in sheets
down the road
like waves on a beach.
All the water falls
straight from the sky
and then blows
to the side,
tapping on the windows.
All the time the whipping
wind hoots in
through the cracks
and makes the siding ripple
and the trees creak.
I watch from inside
the water rising up
over the dock.
The sub-pump turns on
and a humming fills
the drain pipes,
but our house doesn't sink.
The lights flicker
and we are left
sleeping in the dark
with only the sound
of the storm
to drift us off.
Coldness creeps in as
I stay huddled
under the covers,
afraid to brave the chill.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Independence Road

Thar's a storm a'comin.
So Sandy is on her way - sort of already here. Plus NaNoWriMo is set to begin Thursday and I haven't wrapped up my blog posts. I suppose I'll just have to write more blog posts after October (that is still 2012 after all) until I get to 52. Being so close to my goal and just failing at it is difficult, so instead I'm granting leniency. No need to get stressed about self-imposed deadlines that don't affect anyone but you - not worth it.

I had planned on going cross country after graduation. See all I could see. But between all the parties and gifts, I lost my lust for travel. Instead I applied for graduate programs near home.

The only one that would take me I had sent in before graduation, when my plan was still ripe in my mind. Tenessee. Nashville and Belmont University. A small school in the middle of a big city. So now that I'd settled on staying, I was forced to go by my own pride.

Outside the Northeast walls of my world, and driving, nonetheless, I was naked in my dependence. I couldn't quite grasp hold of the cities I went through. My budgeting skills were nonexistent, so I quickly began hoarding it for a rainy day. It seemed to rain every day I drove through Delaware, Maryland, Virginia.

At the suggestion of a slimy mechanic I replaced my tires prematurely and had a full service brake inspection. When I talked to my father later that day, he told me in an exasperated tone that I overpaid.

More hoarding of cash. This meant no stops on the road for coffee or granola bars. I only ate the food that I brought with me, which was mostly chocolate and pretzels and tons of water bottles. No wonder I was falling asleep at the wheel and having to stop for pee breaks in the woods. I had brought toilet paper.

I was not above tailgating on the highway and cutting from lane to lane to go twenty over in the boring two lane roads between mountains. I had learned a more aggressive driving style living in the suburbs than these easy-driving folks.

On the way I would make phone calls from different apartment leasing offices making phone appointments to sign a lease. I would follow up with a call to my mother asking me what to ask. Then I would call internet, leasing, phone, and water companies to set up automatic payments. After a confirming call to my mom I would purchase rental insurance. Then I would call her back to check my bank balance.

I would painfully yawn in the darkness with headlights flashing at me, and listen to the music as loud as it went.

Thursday, October 25, 2012


I guess I'm on two-a-days since I can't even remember to post every day no matter how much I remind myself. How am I going to write 2700 words a day if I can barely write 100 once a week?

Everything is high school comes in twos.
         Two books for each class: a textbook and a reading book.
         Two credits for Advanced Placement.
         Two required P.E. courses.
         Two valedictorians.
         Two plays a year.
         Two hours of rehearsal, two times per day, for two weeks, twice a year.
And this on top of classwork and homework and life. The musical is always worse than the Fall play. All that dancing in step with everyone and singing at a higher pitch than your voice goes just to contrast with your prepubescent costar who is supposed to be a tenor. By the end you might as well be singing opera and breaking all the glass props (mostly vases, vases...whatever).

But in the Fall play, despite there being no aching feet and broken vocal chords, there are still the two-a-days with no hope. The days are short and so they go like this: Wake up at 4:30 am, shower, eat a bar or shake, remember to dress in leggings under jeans, forget brushing teeth, out the door and thank goodness you live two minutes by car, at school by 5 am in the freezing cold darkness just as the custodian arrives, do stretches and practice lines, greet the director-teacher at 5:05, walk through, talk through, act through, then again with each cast member as they arrive, consult with the lighting, sound, stage director, and set builder, check props, go over lines with peers and practice micro-expressions made large, walk across from stage left to right and then back four or five times, go over one or two imperfect scenes, practice the kiss and the slap and costume changes, without seeing any light in the sky grab books and change and go to English, World, Health, Bio, Art, P.E., and somewhere in there lunch, drink two gallons of water and squirt lemon juice down your throat, don't forget the vitamin C, stare listlessly at your friends, glare at your understudy, and high fives, hold hands with your boyfriend for five minutes after school, giggle with the girls for another two, call Mom just in case, annnnnd rehearsal at 4 pm, run through and over, through again and repeat, costume fitting number five, meet with director, voice coach, and then blocking, blocking, blocking, snack, scenes with scenery, alter walk throughs for new scenery pieces, try and remember where to turn, walk, stand, face, then finally when the stars are bright or it's raining crunch through leaves to the car with keys in hand, two minutes home, sit with Mom for dinner and a lecture about how "it's too much," English essay, math practice, Art drawing that was due last class, an AP practice test and one more run through of lines in your head while you brush your teeth and wash your face and fall into bed, tossing and turning over whether or not your friend is mad that you kissed your boyfriend in front of her.

At least in the Spring you see the sun.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

1 + 1 = 2∞

There is a stuffed whale-shark on her bed, mechanical pencils in her purse, and a tapping in her fingers.

He has a knit alien atop a shelf, a tattered black jacket over his t-shirt, and a hunch to his shoulders.

They have a Skype rhetoric, shared Reddit links, and a repertoire of micro-expressions.

For always, they are a rocky start, a pause in the sadness, and a love unconditional. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Training Days


He is a kind man with fiery red hair and a propensity for balance. An excellent waiter by trade. His speech is not too quick for you to comprehend before it is filtered out of your short term memory like everyone's orders. He emits no anger, only brief laughter and a pat on the head. You are like everyone's kid sister.

In a blind smiley fashion you blur from table to table, the only person with a notepad, five new pens, and a spik-n-span apron. You have pep. Some people do appreciate pep. Plus you have your looks going for you. Still, at the end of each evening you have ten dollars less than the worst waiter on the schedule.

All the man and woman at table seven want is their Mountain Dews. Your trainer lets you get the drinks while he observes your peppy demeanor. He reminds you what they ordered as you fumble with cups. No straws allowed in the apron (what is it there for, you wonder). 

As you approach with the tray and the unbalanced drinks you notice the floor needs to be swept. The tray starts to twirl as you set it down on the table and the edge knocks the table and reverberates to your arm, causing the sugary beverages to both fall sideways into the seat. The seat of the man's pants, that is.

Trainer Red pops up and apologizes while you freeze and start to cry. Apologize and apologize and then walk quickly to the kitchen as the man tries to comfort you. Later you will remember that his girlfriend is a waiter, that everyone spills drinks, that it is nerve-wracking to serve people. 

As you stare down at the floor so that no one sees your red eyes, your trainer just smiles at you in bemused silence. The man and woman leave you a generous tip. You pass it along for him, as he deserves. He folds it into your palm and squeezes your fingers, looking into your face and explaining, "It's okay."

You never get any better. Always you remember the spilled drinks, the wrong orders, and the less-than-impeccable service. They all remind you that you are fine. It is perhaps that you think too much, they say. Even with the negative opinion, the peppy attitude remains. Nevertheless to your tips, you always smile thinking of him, watching you make mistakes.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

So begins the countdown...

So begins the countdown. This is blog post 42 of 52 for 2012. On October 31st, I will have completed part of my New Year's Resolution for 2012 and be beginning the big challenge, National Novel Writing Month. From November 1st to 30th, I will be writing a 50,000 word novel. That is about 1,700 word per day. I have some comrades joining the fight this year - my best friend and a coworker. This is going to mean some seriously early mornings and some equally late nights as I try to pack in four stories a day of 500 word each. I'm hoping to post excerpts not only on my NaNoWriMo page, but also here.

For your reading pleasure:

If I were you I'd quit while you're ahead.
Ahead the road looks insanely bleak and I don't know.
Know the things that get you up in the morning.
Mornings are worth having coffee or tea or NPR.
NPR is this new thing I'm trying.
Trying isn't good enough for some people.
People are cruel, but they are also creative.
Creativity runs in my family unknowingly.
Unknowingly I step into an argument.
Arguments are unsanctioned debates.
Debates are staged and fake and vague.
Vagueness is something to avoid when teaching.
Teaching is my passion.
Passion is something I would have only if...
If I were you I'd quit while you're ahead.

Friday, October 19, 2012

What I Believed

"What is love," she asked,
For I've been deceived.
They were quiet
And so I believed
Love was a quiet porch,
And an always-made lunch,
And a bedtime story,
And three words.

"If you care," she proposed,
Then you stick to a budget,
You put the kids to bed
And never argue about it.
Forget about romance
And the wedding dance.
About the kids and, perhaps,
Another on the side.

"Not that, you say? Well
Then what," she queried?
Is it a holding of the hand,
Or the ring that says married?
How would you know it?
How would I know it?
Does it end on that 
Zero anniversary day?

Perhaps it is when.
The question, I mean.
Over time it fades.
It is a transitory being.
How can my love be ample
With this set example?
Will I ever be able
To simply, eternally, love.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

How to Puzzle

Always start by separating. Color from color, pattern from pattern, edge from middle.
It is cheating to start with pieces already together, so separate those manufacturing errors as well.
Always have more than one thing going at a time. Edges are great for starting, but when a lull comes, you'll want to have a patch of color to work on.
When choosing, look for big blocks of color, but not so big to be undistinguishable by shade. Save those for last, when shape of pieces is all you have to go on.
Turn them over and over. Run your hand through the box, uncovering useful pieces.
Eventually, turn them all over slowly and collect them in your hand. Visual memory will be tested.
When large blocks come together, make big moves.
Before you start, make sure you have the space to move large blocks, and space for the whole.
Make big connections and fill in the gaps. Look for tiny bits of color on corners and the final few edge pieces.
Once the edges have come together, start fitting in pieces already set aside as different. Only the same pieces will be left in the end.
When all else fails (particularly your eyes) separate the pieces by shape. How many innies? How many outies? Zero to four. Put them all facing the same direction.
Here your patience is tested, painstakingly testing each logical piece. Start with the single spaces, then with the mostly surrounded ones, Three innies or three outies are usually the easiest to find. Begin snapping them in faster and faster...until they're all snapped in.
Run your hand over the ridges and valleys of your work. Step back and appreciate the whole which matches the picture. Hopefully no holes remain unfilled.
Start loosening row by row and enjoying the cardboardy sound as large handfuls drop back into the box. This takes awhile if done properly, so that no connected pieces remain for the next time.
The next time rarely comes. New pictures begin. Start over by separating.

Sunday, September 30, 2012


The world whirls
     and spins
             as the
nothingness on the ground. Collects, sinks, floods, and dies.
With nothing to build up, we hide in          and weep.

stand where
    to     be
and we look up at the sky and curse                                        used to be.
                                                      those                           home
                                                           deep                  our
                                                                places where

                            goes by we
                         rebuild to forget
                         it until the next
                        dark          winds
                        blow           out
                        our             door
and shatter our windows and flatten our walls and make us hide          in the earth.  
                                                                                                                  s                    e.
This                                                        endure                                   we   u             v
        is                                               we            all                        how           r   v   i
            the                                 what                     of                 is
                 cycle                     is                                 our         It
                         we          This                                         lives.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Distraction - A Short

Arguments coming off the train distract me, direct me elsewhere. I wander towards one exit, then another, until the crowd warms me into its constant stream and I drown in it. Constantly going up in the escalator, pushing past the standers on the left to walk on the right, which isn't right. The sound of whistles rush up from the tracks as cars pull in but the wind rushes down into the tunnel, sliding down the escalator belt like a sliding board kid. Breaching the top and squinting like a diver from the depths, I worry about my shoelaces and pant legs. I gingerly step at the right moment over the threshold of the city.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

If I Could Tell You Everything

Underneath your mattress is a letter you wrote to yourself that is the only thing in the world you don't want anyone to see. Every time you read it your eyes tear up and you practice holding it in. Also, in your closet there is an orange plastic briefcase that used to have art supplies in it, but now holds all of the folded notes your friends have passed you over the years (including the one about Tomato Boy).

I wanted to tell you some things, so that perhaps we will never meet. I want us to make up a wholly different person. I think you can do it where I have failed, but you need my help to know a few things.

It isn't cool to say nasty things like "thank you captain obvious" and "duh" and "you think I care?" Someday you will have alienated people by saying these witty remarks in jest. And you will wonder why you were ever so mean.

The people who will be your friends for your whole life are sitting right in front of you. However, who you are close with will change. People will come and go. Those who make an effort to stay friends with you (and who you make an effort to spend time with) are true friends.

When you learn to drive, don't lose the nervous feeling you get every time your turn isn't wide enough or you blow through a stop sign. Pay special attention to left turns. The lights will get you every time, so always look for the green arrow first. When you eventually get one, don't use your cell phone in the car. Eventually they'll make a law, but it's better not to start. That way you won't rely on it.

Do not pick a major. Plan to study abroad. Live at home. Stop making lists of assignments and spend more time at the top of the football stadium screaming to people how bad they are at boardgames. Practice jumping over people. Don't ever stop moving. Do cartwheels in the street, ride piggy back, and run. Oh, run everywhere. And not with poster board in your hand or trying to protect your portfolio from the rain. Run so you can squeal when someone catches you, so that you can dart back and forth so no one can. Smile big and bright and then lay on the floor and belly laugh.

Date. Don't fall in love. Tell your friends whether or not you approve of their choice in boyfriends. Try and remain objective. Explore. Yourself and what you like. Don't join a sorority. Don't drink in bars.

Spend a lot of time in hugs. Enjoy being lifted. Spun around. Don't ignore the looks in their eyes, it tells you so much about how they feel. Tell them everything. no censors. If they can't handle it, oh well. Before it's so late you can't tell them, tell them.

Saturday, September 15, 2012


The confused feeling of waking up: The brain is ready for the day on one side, on the other it tricks you into closing your eyes again until the music starts playing. Later you will claim your body was still tired.

When the music plays: The only CD you still listen to. No one plays CDs anymore except in the car. You listen to iTunes or the radio. This is your one CD. It's a mix a friend gave you, the soundtrack to "Garden State." Periodically you change the song around so it doesn't start playing in your dreams. However, the grating sound of the CD starting to spin is usually what drives you to get up. Because seriously no one wants to listen to that sound. You never get past the first couple bars, no words ever play.

First thoughts: Why didn't I get up when I woke up before? I would feel so much better right now. Gotta do this and this and such. Wander into the bathroom. Careful don't forget your towel.

Variations: Perhaps I'll get dressed in the bathroom today. No but my lotion is in my room. But then I need two towels, one for my hair. Otherwise the wet hair feeling sticking to my back feeling will suck. Maybe I can sneak into my room without anyone seeing me? Yes.

Sneaking: Carefully open the door after turning the light and fan off and gathering hair in towel. Glance out and around the corner. Adjust the towel to listen for noises. One is snoring...check. One is talking to the cats...check. Quickly maneuver out, open the bedroom door, and slip into the crack before anyone changes positions. Hear the door click and breathe.

Variability: Checking email. Getting breakfast and checking email. Getting dressed to get breakfast. Whether or not I made my lunch the night before. Drying my hair or keeping the towel in for awhile? Eating breakfast while checking email or while making lunch. Either way, spending too much time checking email.

Checking email: Click, click, clickety click. Remember to turn phone on in case someone called or texted during the night. Check personal email. Spam. Check work email. Who wakes up at 4 am? And why do people never seem to sleep? Reply to one, delete erroneous reply-alls, sort into folders. Check Facebook. Notifications of status updates. Check bank account. Never good money there. Check the clock. Oh shit.

Remembering the little things: Dry hair, brush teeth. Get lunch from fridge. Fill water bottle. Phone. Phone, phone, phone. computer cord. Lock the door. Have to say good morning. Put on sunglasses. Turn the key in the wrong direction. Then the right one.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Constant Ear Pain

Words are very important to me. Language means much to me. I often forget to think about my words beforehand, but I try very hard. There are some words I never use. There are some words that offend me, even when said in jest. I am going to list these words and explain why I don't like them. I'd like to dedicate this post to my 11th and 12th grade students, and to the younger kids they influence every day.


Unless you are a doctor, discussing a medical term for stunted growth, I don't want to hear this word. EVER. A few years ago, yes, it was an acceptable term. No more. And not with me. I understand that language shortens over time. People want the fastest way to say what they want to say. It is very difficult to get a person to go from "mental retard" to "person with a cognitive disability" because it's longer. Extra words require extra thought. However, I don't like anyone to be identified by one characteristic of themselves. If unavoidable, I'd rather it be a positive attribute. Saying someone is "retarded" or "a retard" indicates that they are bad overall. It says that they are nothing but that word. Even if a person is not present who has a disability (even if they are but don't understand), it is not okay to make it okay for others to use that word. Because when it does offend, it is the worst kind of thing you can never take back. As a kid, I once locked a girl with a mild cognitive disability in a shed (with the help of her sister) because we didn't want to play with her. Despite the fact that I was "just a kid" and "didn't know better," I feel guilty for that action every single day. If we make it okay for people to do awful things (and say awful things) by doing and saying them ourselves, we are creating a society built on intolerance. This leads me to my next terrible word.

Gay (and all the words that go with it)

The sentence, "That's so gay," means that is full of joy. However, no one outside of the English department pays attention to that fact, so I don't want to hear it. If you are saying that a person is gay, as in they like someone of the same sex (otherwise known as homosexual), and, here's the part that's important, they ARE, then seriously, more power to you. As my sister says, "I say I'm gay all the time." My sister is a lesbian. See the distinction there? They make amazing commercials about thinking before you call someone "gay" now. There is one where two girls are talking in a convenience store and one of them calls something gay. The store clerk starts saying, "that's so Julie" about a similar something. Since the girl's name is Julie, she gets offended. The store clerk ends with something like, "Well, everyone says it. It's just an expression." If I'm not being clear enough, go watch the youtube video. Gay is not a swear word, not an insult, and not an acceptable way to influence those around you. By saying a person is "gay" you may not be homophobic, but you are letting people who are homophobic say it too. You're creating a bad culture. This leads me to my next few words.

Whore/Slut (and other derogatory terms about women)

These words, whether you use them to describe a woman or a man, in jest or seriously, they make it okay for women to degrade other women and for men to degrade women. This okayness is called Rape Culture. While I won't get into that in detail, a young kid who hears an older kid call someone a whore will probably repeat that word. They may not even know the meaning, but anyone who hears them say it will have one more example of someone downgrading women. Some people actually don't respect women. Some people are on the edge of not respecting women. Some women don't respect themselves. These people here those words, and they use them too. And it perpetuates. It goes on and on until everyone says it, and some people believe it. If that is the kind of world you want to live in, that's fine for you, but don't ruin it for the rest of us.

And it isn't just people. Calling things by these names makes it okay as well. I should stop ranting for now, but please, if you take nothing else away from this...think before you speak. Always.

Reading Along

I've been putting off writing here because I was waiting on some good inspiration. However, I'm reading this great book (thank you Norman Constantine) called "Writing Down the Bones" by Natalie Goldberg which has inspired me not to do that. Writing the worst garbage in the whole world is still better than not writing at all. Therefore, I'm catching up on posts today. They probably won't be good, but you can't get better without practicing. I'm a freaking teacher, after all, and I've been setting a terrible example for my students (who hopefully don't read this blog, but still). Practice what you preach people!

School has begun. In a circuitous way, this has led me to think about language. I had a fascinating discussion with a coworker, Jaquie, today about language. Jaquie is a math person, and she only recently found a passion for reading (math history books, so not my thing). Together, we discussed oral language and change in language and code switching. I had a moment a few years ago that I shared with her, and I'd like to share it with you now in narrative form.

At dinner. With the bf's family. Brother, sister, Mom and Dad. Leg twitching.
As conversations go, they make it easy. A family of artists and you a writer.
Reading currently: Sense and Sensibility, "How to be an Other Woman," Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and a Jodi Piccoult
Brother rolls his eyes. Cock your head. Furrow your brows.
"I hate reading."
Three words. So much baggage. You could cry at those words. You could scream and yell. You could glare at him in shock.
Smart kid. Really smart kid. Creative and funny and full of facts about everything. With a whole family of readers and artists.
"When you read, you see pictures of what is going on in the story..."
"I see words."
"Just words."
Never. Never in your life.
Wait. Remember. Go back. When did it feel that way for you? Six or seven? Younger?
How is it? How is it that you never thought of this before?
If you couldn't see the story like a movie in your head, floating by as the words are translated into your working memory and then dumped, would you even like to read at all.
No. The answer is no.
Brother only sees words. He translates and translates.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Need Some Help People!!!!

Hey everyone,

If you could, please tell me what is on your bucket list. What would you like to do before you die? I need your answers to complete this list for Jack:

1. Go to the movies with friends
2. Have a best friend
3. Go to college
4. Cross the street
5. Be part of a group
6. Live alone
7. Hold a job
8. Have a sleepover
9. Have a drink
10. Text message
11. Vote
12. Buy my own clothes
13. Have a kid
14. Drive
15. Get married
16. Tell how someone is feeling
17. Tell when someone is teasing
18. Have the doctor talk to me
19. Look people in the eye
20. Tell a joke to make people laugh
21. Have a girlfriend
22. Make a whole room laugh
23. Have an iPad
24. Go on a bike trip
25. Be in a regular class
26. Learn Karate
27. Climb a mountain
28. Travel on an airplane
29. Go to the beach
30. Help a sick person
31. Build a model car
32. Complete a math problem
33. Complete a project I started
34. Raise my hand in class
35. Have the most songs on my Ipod
36. Make it in the yearbook
37. Join a sports team
38. Run a mile
39. Live to be 100
40. Write my own story
41. Go sledding
42. Have a brother or sister
43. Make a youtube video
44. Have a facebook
45. Stay at home by myself
46. Use a stove
47. Have a surprise party
48. Ride a horse
49. Eat dessert for breakfast
50. Learn to dance

51. Go to a school dance
52. Go to a football game
53. Have a REAL girlfriend
54. Be a movie extra
55. Have a conversation
56. Teach someone something
57. Swim with dolphins
58. Ride an elephant
59. Learn to snowboard
60. Get straight As
61. Make Mom and Dad proud
62. Be on t.v.
63. Win the lottery
64. Get picked first
65. Be famous
66. Set a world record
67. Live at the beach
68. Work in a restaurant
69. Own a nice watch
70. Own a car
71. Buy a car
72. Go camping
73. Be a Boy Scout
74. Go fishing
75. Go on a submarine
76. Go to a casino
77. Watch a movie marathon
78. Meet a famous person
79. Play video games
80. Save a life
81. Donate blood
82. Go to Australia
83. Go to the Alps
84. Read Harry Potter
85. Die of old age
86. Get a cell phone
87. Meet the President
88. Go to Disney World
89. Fly a plane
90. Have a brother or sister
91. Dye my hair
92. Have long hair
93. Graduate with honors
94. Join a club
95. Be part of a group
96. Go to camp
97. Have no limitations
98. Go to space
99. Do a cartwheel
100. Go to Africa

The Canal

She casually mentions one hundred dollars. You do the math in your head and realize your mistake. All of this while staring down the road like a horse with blinders. The hysteria starts. Usually there is just a twinge of annoyance. Today it is full-blown hyperventilating speech. “I-don’t-have-that-why-wasn’t-I-notified-there-is-no-way-I-can-pay-that.” All on the way to your barely-rent paycheck that eats up eighty dollars in gas per week. You panic and hang up on her while she is explaining your “options.” Later you’ll feel guilty for that.

The steering wheel is shaking. Your shoulders start to ache with stiffness. Your chin starts to vibrate and without sobbing three tears start to fall from each eye. You can only stare unblinkingly as your exit passes and the silence before your sobs stretches on. Only once you’ve made three wrong turns to get back on the highway does it start.

It’s like a hiccup with an asthma attack attached. You choke back nonexistent vomit as your glasses start to fog up from the hotness of your tears. Your shaking hands move them once to your head, then to the seat, then as the sun sears your pupils back on your nose. Then back to your head as they fog. You begin to grasp at the wheel, your planner, your phone, your glasses. You can barely see.

You drive at twenty miles per hour until you get to your parallel parking space, without accident or incident. You wipe and wipe and sob and sob but there is no end to the stream of tears.

Notice that your nose isn’t stuffed up. Remember when you realized the only way to effectively cry is upright, otherwise you can’t breathe. Remember that all the times your eyes were red-rimmed and wet, no one noticed you were upset but you, and if they did no one mentioned it. Bringing personal problems wot work is not your style. Having personal problems is your style.

Think about calling in sick and driving home in the non-stop traffic to sleep some more, but think of the people who have now seen your car, the money you stand to earn, the buoyancy of having colleagues, and the fact that people don’t notice and don’t comment on red-rimmed eyes (but perhaps assume drugs are involved or a lack of sleep). Walk, head down with avoidant eyes, to what is, at least, an open door.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Caught - A Short

Were you, perhaps, born in a time that you were not meant for? Pushed out under a sun that was too bright for your wise eyes or too old for your new perspective. Then you can be a writer. Then you can wend the pages that are what you see. Your readers will "ooh" and "aah" at your new fangled ideas or your twist on the past and they will wonder who comes up with this stuff. Creativity is only living in a world that doesn't understand you. Only seeing shadows of a better time everywhere.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Holding On - A Short

My boyfriend holds my hand like he’s trying to break my fingers. He has to be on the bottom, “Because it’s warm,” he says. And then he curls my fingers around into his fist.

I like to believe that appendages are meant to be inert. That my hand it meant to be palm up with just the slightest curl. That it should feel like floating.

When holding hands, palm side down is fine, like a protective covering over the other hand. I like to sandwich too. One hand cupping his palm and the other covering his knuckles. Just enough to rub my thumb over his veins, tense and twisting around to squeeze my fingers.

Monday, August 6, 2012


The last one was tacks. A whole bunch of tacks clicking together in my mouth, not stabbing me but filling it up and making it hard to breath. Pulling them out, scraping them off my tongue just caused more to take their places. Eventually I start to panic, trying hard to fill my mouth with air. When I open my eyes it is like coming up from water. I’ve been holding my breath. I gasp and start and fear more sleep.

Perhaps I said something biting, tactless. Or perhaps it was tactful but inappropriate. Maybe I just hurt someone’s feelings or got mad for no reason. If my dreams are another world, it is a cruel, cruel alternate universe.

I used to wear those invisalign retainers to bed, but I stopped because every night they would stack up like chinese dolls and I would spend dream hours pulling them out one by one. Knowing it was a dream, I would try and try, assuming that eventually I would pull out the actual one in my mouth and the panic would end. I usually woke up with my teeth clenched together and again, holding my breath. That’s when I stopped wearing them.

Then it was sand. Dirt. Something I scraped out of my mouth with my fingernails. I tried to get it out of the back of my throat, the inside of my cheeks, the spaces between my teeth. I’d force myself to breathe in my dream, but it was shallow and ineffective. I’d try to close my mouth around the substances and breath from my nose, but there was too much of the stuff. I’d awake with a sharp intake of breath and a shot up in bed.

The worst time it was just my tongue. It would swell and swell and swell until it was sticking out of my mouth, blocking my airway. I would try to bite it, or poke at it with my fingers to make room for air. My nose would feel clogged as well. These times could be a clear analogy of me talking too much or sticking my foot in my mouth. Waking up, realizing you’ve been clenching your jaw and not breathing, makes you want an explanation. I would search through every rotten thing I’ve ever done, looking for the words that caused the dream. I would stifle it.

Mostly I would just breathe. When I get angry, I try to breathe. When I’m arguing with someone, I try to breathe. Revenge will come to me if I say those words. If I’m impulsive. It is amazing how pleasant of a thing breathing is when your body revolts against you in the night. And you don’t know why. So perhaps you just stop talking.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Perfect Party Analogy

I have somehow combined my knowledge of successful art and my experience partying and party planning to create the Perfect Party Analogy.

This all started because my younger sister is turning 21, and she asked for my advice on what to do for her birthday party. This analogy arose out of the depths of my mind (you know, one of those file folders that you haven't seen in awhile and accessed only through playing a lot of sudoku so your neural pathways don't close). In psych they always called the brain a filing system. The more organized the easier access to thoughts/memories.

Anyway off topic. The first rule of painting and drawing I ever learned (before I decided I like abstract art better) was that there must always be something going on in the foreground, middle-ground, and background of a composition. This applies mainly to painting or drawing landscapes, but also works for still life and photography. The idea for art is that the brain will process the most important part of what it is seeing if it doesn't recognize anything unusual beforehand. Some artists take advantage of this by inputting mysteries into the background of their work (think the uneven skyline in daVinci's Mona Lisa). Most artists just leave it as it should be, background. It helps you see what is important.

Okay so enough about art. There are many types of people, from loners to joiners to dependents. There is a chance that so many types of people will show up to a party. The point is to please everyone's taste. This is very hard to do when you don't necessarily know everyone 100% (think frat party or housewarming). This is where the basic analogy applies. Every party needs a foreground, middle-ground, and background. For my examples, I will use what I explained to my sister, but hopefully it will be general enough to apply to any party or event.

Let's start with the background. This is for loners and/or people who have trouble being social with strangers. It is for everyone technically, but it makes these people feel comfortable. They feel included without having to force their way in. Essentially, something must be going on for the whole length of the party that is easy, includes everyone, and most importantly, that can be taken or left. This is something that can be done religiously if one so chooses, but can also be ignored for the most part and done only occasionally. If you're confused by what I mean, here is the example. At any party where there is drinking, and good background event is a television show drinking game (particularly one invented by the host involving a well-known show or movie that they have access to). My sister happens to love Dexter, so that's what I suggested. I've never seen the show, but here are some specific examples: (1) House says something snarky, (2) Zombies appear in The Walking Dead, (3) David Caruso makes a terrible pun and takes off his sunglasses on CSI: Miami. A couple of rules for this: TV works better than movies, because there are tons of episodes with similar themes, pick something that happens often enough to not get boring, but not so often that your guests will be vomiting after one episode. This type of game allows for people to just sit on the couch and watch and drink, occasionally calling out other people to pay attention and drink as well. However, if no one pays attention most of the time, it can just be funny when other things get dull or a specific guest wants to drink with the host. Obviously this is only one type of example, but think about the clothespin game from baby showers, buffet meals at holiday parties, or even just music or a football game in the background. See how this interacts with what is going on the in the middle-ground and foreground but doesn't overwhelm it to become front and center.

Middle-ground. This is for the joiners and/or socially independent people. It is technically for everyone, but it is mostly for frequent party-goers and people who are occasionally the center of attention, but don't need to be (my best friend is like this and I aspire to be like her). This is something that a group of people can be involved in, but has distinct beginning and ends unless you're just a spectator (in which case it could go on all night). These events are many (as in all of the events going on in the center/middle-ground of a painting, they can include spectators, and usually they have a bit of competition involved. They are not the most important thing going on (that would be in the foreground), but they contribute directly to it. Here is the 21st birthday party example: DRINKING GAMES. Beer pong, Kings, Beer Hockey, Quarters, Asshole, Up the River-Down the River, Cornhole, Baseball, GolfFuck the Dealer, etc. etc. As I said, these games can oscillate between being front and center (if the host is playing) or a nice rhythmic middle-ground. Remember: Anyone can play, anyone can watch, no one has to play or watch. They are simply available. Other examples of middle-ground can be trivia games, cooking, football at Thanksgiving, etc.

The foreground is the main attraction, and depends on the type of party. It is for the "main character" and their dependents. It is again for everyone, but mainly focuses on the host/celebrant and their closest friends. These people are not usually very social or they don't know many of the other guests. Their comfort zone is with the person who invited them. Anyone can join in, which makes it a good way to get the dependents to meet some new people. It also prevents them from leaving early or getting mad, or crowding the host. For example, when the host is challenged to a game of beer pong (this is when middle-ground activities meet the foreground). What I explained for my sister is that whatever she is doing at her birthday party is what people will want to be involved in. They came to celebrate with her, so if she is taking shots with a group, playing a game, or eating dinner, that is what the other guests will be watching and doing. It allows her to circulate and for each person to share something with her. This is obvious for any party that has a main character (a birthday, graduation party, wedding). For other parties, it is usually an event, like present-opening at Christmas, or simply a conversation, like asking about home improvements of a new homeowner. The foreground is always there, and it is the most important thing going on.

Okay, so there is my analogy, perfectly developed in the twenty seconds it took me to respond to my sister's question. Guess my synapses are working alright, despite all the drinking :). Party on my friends, party on.

A Certain Haziness

There is a haziness that overcomes a person who does one of three things:
1. Takes an afternoon nap
2. Drinks just a bit too much
3. Spends a whole day in the sun (for me, this is usually while at the beach)

For me at least, the haziness is always the same. The body is slow and sore, but not in pain. Every position is a comfortable one, whether your head is cutting off the circulation to your arm or your neck is twisted painfully to the size and elevated. Your eyelids are heavy, but they feel just as normal open as closed. Those, plus the temperature. It must be just right, like bathwater. Warm enough to wear a bathing suit or sleep with no sheet, but with a breeze that makes it cool enough not to get sweaty. This haziness...well, it's my favorite thing.

Only within this haziness does everything make sense. Life is not stressful, the future and the past are not there. All that is, is this moment when the blur overtakes your body and your mind settles on the steady rhythm of sleep, conversation, or waves. My dreams are always good. My speech always witty.

The second best part of the haze is the disorientation. Now, one would think that to be disoriented is to be in a negative state of mind. This simply isn't the case for the blur/haze.
1. After waking up from the most amazing dreams and being in the cloud of comfort, there is a bit of disappointment (which is when most people decide to sleep just a bit longer), but then there is a clarity. All of the imagination and creativity comes rushing back to the brain. It is ready to plan and remember. The mind is disoriented from stress and negativity.
2. While drinking a bit too much, there is a clarity of speech. People say things when they are drinking that are unguarded. Most of the time, it isn't such a big deal that they were said. The sober mind believes certain things are inappropriate, ill-timed, or damaging. The buzzed mind considers people only: interprets their facial expressions, explains more clearly, avoids arguments. The mind is disoriented from social rules and selfishness.
3. After spending a whole day in the sun, there is simply a clarity. The mind is free to see only the things right in front. To appreciate the waves and the sand, the murmurs of family, the numbness of the body. The mind is disoriented from little pains and annoyance. It is happy just to be.

Others may not agree with my moments of clarity, my haziness (after all, it is different for everyone), but I think there are a few appreciators I can count on, even if they have never quite put it into words before. I hope I have described their feelings accurately. I can only truly say for myself.