Friday, December 25, 2009
Friday, December 11, 2009
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
I hear the gravel crunch as Austin passes swiftly on his skateboard. His backpack is slung loosely over one shoulder, and as his body fades I see the back pocket unzipped, a black pencil case threatening to spill out. It balances carefully on the edge of the zipper, gently bobbing up and down as it continues on its journey. My eyes wander down his body, his tight jeans growing smaller, his shape gradually becoming less perfect and more blurred as he skates down the street.
I trip on the sidewalk. I hear a girl click her tongue as I balance myself on the uneven concrete. She has dark brown hair, orange skin, and black leggings that seem to be painted on squeezing her thighs. She rolls eyes at me before she turns her head, watching Austin shrink. Her makeup’s all wrong. Her eye shadow’s smudged. She’s wearing too much concealer.
She waves to Austin, her cold expression cracking into desperation. He does not turn. She calls to him, once, “Hey!’ His body is a speck in the distance. Again, louder, “Hey!” His body is microscopic.
When I pass her, I glare. She catches my look, and bumps me with her purse. I let my fingers wrap and tug around its long leather handles, and then she is picking up mascara from the sidewalk, hissing at me, spitting out colorful words. I am a slut. I am a bitch.
I think about the last time I saw Austin. In class, his friend with the blond curly hair nudges him in the side, chiding him for not coming out the weekend before. He’s whipped, tied down to his girlfriend. Austin smiles nervously. Is he going to marry her? No, he laughs, of course not, his hands twisting and turning, his fingers winding into the loose threads from a tear at the bottom of his jeans.
My mind wanders as I turn the corner, reaching the front steps to my apartment. I walk upstairs and immediately crawl in bed with my shoes still on, and wrap my arms around Patrick, who is wrapped under the covers snoring lightly. My hands caress his bare chest and I smell his hair, which always smells of jasmine. He mumbles a bit, and turns his body to face me, half-opening his eyes, groggily looking at me. I ask him to promise to never fool around with another woman. He does. I ask him to promise to continue loving me. He does. I ask him to promise to never to marry me. He does.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
I don’t think that my parents would have predicted that they would have a child in art school. My father, a technological man, and my mother, who spent most of my childhood as a stay-at-home mom, can hardly be considered the artistic type. They never enrolled me in an art class, or encouraged me to pursue creative outlets. Instead, they forced my non-athletic, twiggy self into six years of little-league softball. In high school, they hung their heads in shame as I traded in my catcher’s gear for play scripts. They winced when I asked for rides to art shows. My senior year, my dad scolded me for not taking calculus.
By the time I applied for college, it was clear that things weren’t going to change. While they were relieved that I was hesitant to make a career out of the fine arts, I remember the exasperated expression on my father’s face when I told him that I wanted to pursue animation and filmmaking. It was only with my keen knowledge of the film industry, as I recklessly pulled up numbers and gross figures, that my parents grudgingly accepted the fact that I could pursue art and make money—if I were lucky.
Because I didn’t have much support from my parents, art was something that I had to completely self-teach. I found my inspiration mostly through contemporary filmmakers, practically idolizing directors such as Stephen Spielberg, Geoerge Lucas, John Hughes, Wes Anderson, the Coen Brothers, and Hayao Miyazaki. Above all, I worship the senior creative team at Pixar. Most of my daydreams revolve around working along side with John Lasseter, grabbing lunch with Andrew Stanton, and just chillin’ with Brad Bird.
Sometimes, my admiration for such people brings fault to my work. The biggest challenge I have as an artist is my lack of self-confidence. I tend to look at such accomplished filmmakers and wonder how I can reach their levels, both in quality and conceptually. I know it is nonsensical to compare myself to such famed people, but it is in my nature to push myself beyond my natural limits, to have grandiose aspirations for my work and goals set so high that even some of the most famed people in the industry have not reached them.
In the end, I just want to be a storyteller. I want to explore the dark, complex sides of humanity. I’m interested in the motivation and psychology behind emotion, especially mixed feelings like anticipation and disappointment. I want to pursue the ideas of luck and karma, and I would like to find out if fate really exists. I like to experiment with various forms of animation, so I can tell stories about people in surreal and abstract ways. I would like to be a formalist who does not abandon meaning, and a postmodernist with hope for humanity, a hope that is buried under all my discontent.
Despite negative feelings, however, I feel that I have succeeded at finding out who I am, not just as an artist, but as an individual as well. I know what values I hold, and how I would like my art to portray such ideals. At this point, I am only struggling to find a comfortable method for doing so. I have While I see myself as a pessimist, I do believe that I will be able to solve such a problem.
Sometimes, I like to put my artistic identity crisis aside. For now, I continue to bemuse my parents, thriving in my uncertainties and insecurities, watching them squirm, smiling slyly to myself.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
And The Trees Glow
It’s the late afternoon, and the sun grows tired and languid, yawning as it slowly descends behind the trees, flares dulling from a crisp yellow to a sultry orange. The shadows grow, stretching forever, the dirt road sprouting freckles, spotted by bursts of light and dark imprints, the light blocked by the leaves and the squirrels. And the leaves! The leaves glow, illuminate, a transfixing emerald green. They glow with passion! They glow with radiance! They glow and the squirrels scurry across the branches, and as the tree shakes, the leaves whisper, tell secrets, giggle faintly. Cicadas stretch and flutter their wings, bothered by the heat, awakened by the orange air, begin chirping oooooAAAAA oooooAAAAA oooooAAAAA. And the cicadas yearn for love, and summer yearns for love, and humanity yearns for love.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Thursday, July 9, 2009
The Prince on the Median
The stuffed tiger lay in the middle of the road, on the flat median, just short of the left-turn lane. It was dirty and faded. Its orange back was bleached yellow from the sun, and the black stripes were a dull gray, and the gray spread into the white fur hugging the tiger’s jawline. It lay there so helplessly, so quietly. It paid no attention to the cars, refusing to rock gently as the vehicles breezed by, the artificial wind barely ruffling the tiger’s faux whiskers.
It lay there in the aftermath of father’s rage, or mother’s, or brother, or even grandma. He was stressed, on edge. She was nervous, waiting on the results for something important, something that daughter and her tiger couldn’t understand. So the girl sang to her tiger, called him her prince, brushed his matted, dull fur. Father or mother, hands shaking, asking daughter to be a little more quiet, asking again and again, took her prince and flung him out the window, and daughter’s tears only made it worse.
There was the possibility that there was no rage, or stress. There were no results and there wasn’t anything important for daughter to not understand. She had rolled the window down; let tiger’s snout pick up the scents of the suburbs, substituting for the puppy she asked for every Christmas. He was enjoying it all, the scents, the sounds, the sun, when suddenly the car jerked. It had hit a pothole, swerved to avoid another car, slammed on the breaks to avoid a squirrel—it had been something, anything, but daughter never knew, her eyes widening and jaw dropping as tiger slipped from her hands.
There, on the median, tiger watched his damsel’s tiny face grow smaller and smaller, until it was only a dot on the horizon, pink and blurry. Then cars began to gather in the left-turn lane, and his fur darkened more with the debris from exhaust pipes as the light turned green and cars revved their engines.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
In the late morning, the phone rings, and in her usual manner my mother answers, informally saying “hello” as she anticipates the sales pitch from a telemarker or Jewish charity. There is an unusual pause before she speaks next, and while I cannot see her reaction, as I am lying in my bedroom trying to fall back asleep, I can sense her body going rigid, her hands clenching tightly around the phone, her heart beating faster.
“You’re asking about Ryan?”
The way her voice cracks makes it sound as if someone is bringing terrible news about my brother. Her tone is suddenly sharp, distrusting, paranoid. Angrily, she asks the caller, “do you even know who Ryan is? Do you know him?”
I feel my heart break as there is a long, uncomfortable pause. “When was the last time you spoke to him,” my mother finally barks, and I wonder which long-lost friend the caller is. My first guesses are Grant or Patricia, but my mother never repeats the name aloud.
I imagine the caller is stammering, feeling interrogated and vulnerable, the horror creeping into their mind as they realize that they’ve just disturbed a grieving mother. “Ryan’s in the Air Force,” my mother says weakly, a small clear of the throat to hide the fact that she may be crying. The way she speaks, “Air Force,” could easily be replaced with the word “dead.”
Ryan is Dead.
In my mother’s mind, his enlistment was the act of signing his own death certificate. His infrequent calls and brief communication with me provide no consolation for her. While my brother will be stationed in a small base in Northern California, my mother firmly believes that soon he’ll be stationed in Iraq, dodging bullets and dropping bombs from planes, eventually landing in a body bag as a proud, Jewish soldier.
As I lay in bed, tangled in my covers, I try to hear more, but there is nothing. I strain my ears and suddenly I hear the bathroom sink running water, my mother shuffling around, the toilet flush, more running water. Then silence. The house fills with an emptiness, and for a brief moment, I feel like the air is thick with mourning, that my mother is sitting Shiva. Then my dog stirs, and the bright jangling of his collar remind me of dog tags. I picture my brother in the hot sun of Goodfellow, Texas, grumbling about P. T. and technical school, looking forward to the evening when he can swipe a slice of cake from the dining hall and then spend some hours online, telling stories to his sister about his pick-up softball games, casually mentioning a girl he spoke to that day, and making plans for when he eventually comes home.
Saturday, June 6, 2009
They stood there, arms waving in a frenzy, as men from the Coast Guard tried to shoo the crowd away, shouting obscenities into megaphones. The Humpback whale looked so lonely on the shore, his big eyes swollen and reflecting the mass of onlookers strutting in their bikinis, and swim trunks. The whale’s thick skin was bloated, and there was algae deepest in his wrinkles, and a hermit crab scuttled across the fluke excitedly, as if it were Columbus setting foot upon the New World for the first time. Children laughed and screamed when the helicopter arrived, as the thick cords fell clumsily into the sand. The men threw damp blankets over the whale, and after a grueling process he began to lift up, up, up into the sky. When the whale was only a dot among the horizon, the people returned to their beach towels and hot dogs, and the scent of sunscreen overcame the smell of the sea.
Monday, May 25, 2009
Friday, May 15, 2009
Sometimes, when I am bored and feeling lonely, I will visit my Blogger profile and click on bands and films that I have listed in my profile as favorites. I scroll through the results, fondly regarding the multitude of strangers with whom I have at least one thing in common. On occasion, I spot a handsome man, and holding my breath I tentatively click on his profile, peering into the depths of his interests. I only get a vague feel of his life, but I smile, and I feel my cheeks glow when I see that we both share an appreciation for Wes Anderson flicks and the crooning voice of John Darinelle. When I am feeling especially brave, I plunge into his blog, skimming his lately musings to see if perhaps my soul mate is out there, wandering the streets of London or Sydney or Tokyo. I close my eyes, and I daydream about the wonderful life I could have with a man that I have built in my mind based off shallow information. Then I close the window, and I take careful precautions to never look for these men again. I erase them from my mind; I forget about our imaginary courtship. I return to reality, straining my ears to catch signs of life that surround me. Off in the distance, there are warm bodies held close by their significant others, oblivious to the emptiness that plagues me on these nights.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
The little white flags trembled, but they held themselves high, and tried to shout across the nation, but their words were ripped apart from the bellowing wind, and their tiny voices could not carry across the country, especially not to the flag way up in Juneau.
The flag in Davenport managed to cry out to the entire Quad Cities, and Rock Island’s inhabitant was surely impressed, but their exchange was cut off from the rest of the world, swallowed by the surrounding farmlands, and it wasn’t long until the cows and sheep and goats came and chewed their cloth to pieces and their wooden shafts to nubs.
Along the West Coast, the flags were stomped on, torn and tattered, and San Rafael and San Francisco’s flags hid in the sewers, and their words never traveled across the Golden Gate. Seattle’s flags could not overcome the rain and clouds and fog, and threw its words into the sea, and then came plummeting after.
The East was too prideful, so the flags whispered to each other, their words scrambled in their game of telephone. The South could never get along, and they let their words melt in the hot sun as they sat on their porches drinking sweet tea, and pretended they had nothing to say.
They tried to breach Canada and Mexico, but big men with large guns pushed them back, lining them across the borders. Some tried to swim across the Atlantic, but their words were garbled in the waters, and they wound up on the shores of Portugal and Morocco dumb and mute.
The flags grew in number, but they no longer held themselves high, nor screamed, nor whispered, for their necks were broken and their bodies were now homes for the rats and the worms. The cows and the sheep and goats were bloated, and the splintered wood and tattered cloth filled the farms and the abandoned words sunk into the soil.
The words took root and sprouted, and new red flags shot out of the ground, with steel shafts and silk threads. They screamed across the nation, and they reached Fargo and Augusta and Provo, and Juneau heard the loudest cry of all.
And the flags still shout, and tremble no more.
Saturday, May 2, 2009
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Saturday, April 18, 2009
Friday, April 17, 2009
When she signed her name, the pen burst, and black ink poured and poured and flooded her bedroom. It dirtied her shoes and her stockings, and reached up to the hem of her skirt and then to her breasts, until soon her chin was tickled by the wet muck and the smell became too much to bear. She paddled to her window, and with all her might she forced it open, and watched as the ink rushed out and filled the streets, dirtying the paws of stray cats and the tires of cars and bicycles speeding by. She saw children playing on the sidewalk wail as their gameboys fizzled, and bewildered fathers waited until working mothers came home to console their sons and daughters. She witnessed the city turn dark, and she sighed and picked up a rag, and began to blot up the ink. She cleaned and cleaned, but the stains never vanished, and the smell still lingered, and she could no longer remember how to sign her name.
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Thursday, March 5, 2009
I am surrounded by sorority girls, a mentally challenged teenager, a crying baby, and I’m seated next to a fundamentalist Christian.
This thirteen hour train ride suddenly seems much, much longer.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Every night, I have the same dream. I’m sitting in my living room, dressed in my cutest date outfit, debating whether or not I want to meet Daniel for dinner. He’s a sweet guy with good intentions, but he views himself as a Casanova, and insists that he’s a professional fashion photographer. In reality, The only female interaction he gets stems from silly photoshoots. I know that during dinner, he’ll ask me to model for him, nude, and I don’t want to witness the emotional breakdown that will follow when I decline his offer. Daniel will ask me where he went wrong in his life, blame it on a childhood incident where he massacred a nest of baby birds, and then sob until I redeem him for his past sins.
I have never met Daniel in person, yet he is my only companion in dreams. He is the entity of every man I have ever had a relationship with; a symbol of self-loathing, personal insecurities, and destructive behavior. I resist his dinner invitations because I have perfected the art of running away from old flames, yet lately, as my dreams become more vivid, the scent of his cheap cologne and weary smile suddenly seem alluring.
On one fretful night, I find myself in a cheap Italian restaurant, a plastic tablecloth
expanding infinitely to keep Daniel and me apart. He’s nervously speaking, and I can see the apprehension weighing down his expression as he prepares to ask me about the modeling job. My body is rigid as I contemplate the various ways of saying ‘no,’ when Daniel pulls a mesh hamper into view, filled to the brim with dirty underwear. He takes the underwear, and starts unfolding it onto the table, until there are miles, and miles, and miles, of boxer briefs between us. He quietly asks me to do his laundry for him. At this moment, I would rather be in a dank photo studio, naked and smothered with marinara sauce.
Now, while fully awake, the task of doing laundry haunts me in the most self-conscious, embarrassing manner. I let my clothes pile up, and when I finally run out of underwear, I concede to the task. I take my clothes downtown to a Laundromat, and the most flamboyant fashion I can muster, I turn the mundane task into a full production. As I watch my clothes spin in the washing machine, a blur of suds and color, I feel the dream slip away from my mind. I close my eyes, yet I cannot picture Daniel gummy teeth or smell his cut-rate aroma.
I never see Daniel again. Instead, I dream of the Italian restaurant, empty except for myself, pushing rigatoni across my plate and a freshly ironed dress on my back. The table is lined with photographs of woman, naked, contorting their bodies in catlike positions. Each one of them looks at me and tells me that I’ve done right. They say from here on out, I’m free to do what I please, that I’ll never be forced to do anything again It’s good to hear these women say these things, but I don’t feel any different. I don’t feel enlightened, or powerful, or anything. I only feel satisfied, but I think that’s all I’ve ever been looking for--satisfaction.