This is the Life of a Redhead



Monday, November 8, 2010

The Shore, November

I stood at the water’s edge. The waves leapt forward and the icy cold ate away at my ankles. They were exposed to the wind and I saw water droplets beading on my skin, which was turning a rosy color that reminded me of the days in my childhood I spent sitting by the fireplace sniffling into a handkerchief that had I fetched from my father’s pocket. I remember the silver pocket watch he carried, the one with his initials carved in the back, a gift from gangsters. That silver now reflected in the water’s depths. The sun gleamed on the pebbles and the starfish, and there in the sand were metallic shards from the oil tanker that sank only seven months before.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Home

We stumbled through the slick streets. Our feet moved in jagged angles as we tried to avoid the small, fat creatures that had been evicted from their homes due to flooding. Brown worms, some with their bodies flattened, their soft skin branded with a fresh footprint. There was one lying a few feet ahead of me. It was a large one. Juices from its plump body oozed onto the sidewalk. Both ends thrashed about., its nerves shaken.

I am laughing too hard. My sides are hurting from the last joke you made, something about a large woman sitting alone at cocktail hour. I see spit burst from your lips. You flash your perfect teeth, but I spot some lettuce stuck in the top row, a little off center. I reach over to flick it out. Dig my nail in your mouth, watch your body jerk away from mine; see how you like it when I lunge for you unsolicited. But my spitefulness gets the best of me. My heel glides against the wet pavement. My ankle rolls, and there I am falling, my leg throbbing before I hit the ground.

Without hesitation you grab for me, and I equate the pain shooting through me with your arms wrapped around my waist. The ground is unforgiving. My knees scrape against the surface, and all I feel is my body aching and your hands upon me. The worms crawl into my open sores and call them their new home. It is wet and moist and smells of iron, but they prefer it to the rain, and they prefer me over you.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Austin, Again

I can't believe I wrote a sequel. But I did.
Sequel to Austin


Austin, Again (working title)

My arms start to ache. The horde of fiction weighs me down, and I’m eying the cash register with my bottom lip turning white, my large teeth biting with anticipation. I am rocking back and forth from my heels to the balls of my feet, anxious to unload these books, when I feel a hand brush lightly on the back of my shoulder.

I jump with surprise. The books tumble to the floor. My arms practically sigh in relief as I feel my cheeks burn and I angle my head towards the floor.

“Hey. I know you. From our business class?”

Austin stands in front of me. His skin is pale. His cheeks are hallow, gaunt. He wears a navy polo that hangs loosely around his body, searching for his once prefect abs to pull and stretch the cotton. A nametag reflects the florescent lights. Austin. His name flickers. Austin.

We begin to pick up the books together. Austin cracks a smile and I see that he still has perfectly aligned white teeth. There is a cut below his lip, small and subtle. He’s clean shaved except for near the cut; I see there is a trace of stubble he left behind for fear of irritating his skin further.

“How have you been? How is that guy? Uhm. You know. That one. Patrick?”

The book in his hand looses its firm rectangular shape. It’s turned into an arc as Austin’s hands run along the cover, squeeze the binding, fold the pages inward. His ring fingers are stark naked. There’s dirt under his nails.

“I don’t know. He’s managing, I think.” I shrug and flash a small smile. I never spoke to Austin. How does he remember me? I think about Patrick waiting near the doorjamb of our business class. Austin and his friend with the curly blond hair would leave with their skateboards already grazing the ground. I would trudge behind, tired and weary, until I saw Patrick waiting for me. Both of us were stuck in the mechanics of our habits. He waited for me passively. I went to him passively.

Something triggers the aching in my arms. I see Austin setting the pile of books back in my grasp. For a moment, his hand lingers on the paperback he places on top. He pretends to scan the cover before his eyes drift upwards to meet my gaze. I say nothing, and move my bottom jaw rigidly as I think of the right words to fill the silence. Instead, I clear my throat and grin. I mumble thank you and run towards the checkout.

The register beeps with every book sliding through the machine. On a frail receipt my purchases will be documented. After closing, Austin will slip in and pull up my information, despite not knowing or caring much about me. He is excited that I am here and exposed, that I’m so easily accessible, that he will never have to read me because he knows that in mere moments he will know more better than any past or future Patrick ever will.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Three-Minute Fiction

Entered into NPR's three-minute fiction contest (round 5.) It is not really the style that wins, but I am proud of myself for entering. Some problems with the story, still. Oh well.

Coup

Some people swore that the house was haunted, but Pauline could not help but to be entertained by the pigeons that had made the roof their home. She purchased the house with the intent of waking up to the hungry cooing of the baby birds, of sweeping feathers off the front porch, and scrubbing the mess that the pigeons left behind. She wouldn’t mind the smell. She would revel in the smell. Pauline needed to be cleaning all time. She needed something to do.
            The rumor was that the pigeons were left behind by the woman who had previously owned the house. She fed birds in the park, talked to herself, flung breadcrumbs and glared at passersby who got too close. One day she won the lottery. She took the money and the birds home with her. When she passed, she could not part with the pigeons. Pauline listened for her ghost, analyzing every creek and moan of the house, but when she heard those pigeons coo she forgot all about the haunting and instead focused on cleaning.
            One afternoon Pauline found herself sitting still in the kitchen. She had woken up early that day and had already run out of things to clean. The house was immaculate, and she felt her hands tremble on the glossy table. She would press one hand to the surface, hold it down until her fingers turned white, and then scrub the prints off with her free hand, which was ready and armed with a rag reeking of turpentine. She did this for hours.
The pigeons were quiet that day. Pauline feared that they had flown off. Her hands were growing tired and the stench was making her dizzy. She had forgotten to open any windows. Pauline, in a daze, stumbled to her refrigerator. She looked inside and stared at a loaf of bread. Quickly, she ripped a chunk off the bread. Some crumbs tumbled onto the shelf. Pauline stared at them for a while, and then slowly closed the refrigerator. She took the bread and walked out to the front porch, leaving a trail of crumbs behind.
Absentmindedly, Pauline tore the bread into smaller pieces and scattered them on the porch. They started to accumulate at her feet, falling on top of one another, a small pile of breadcrumbs rising to meet the tips of her heels. Pauline waited for the pigeons. She held her breath and strained to hear the cooing. She squinted her eyes and looked for fresh feathers. There was nothing.
There was no more bread in her hands. The crumbs lay at her feet. Some had even fallen into the folds of her skirt. Pauline did not bother to brush them away. Instead, she collapsed onto the ground. Her body shook and she raised her hands to cover her eyes, pressing her palms hard into her cheeks as if it would stop her tears from coming. She waited for the birds, but they did not come.
An old Ford came from down the road. It’s engine sputtered and it kicked up dust on its way around the bend. Pauline raised her head and saw the car slow down as it reached her house. She called out to the driver, “John?”
But the car sped up and roared away. Pauline sat with the crumbs caught in her skirt, mashed against the souls of her shoes, some buried under her nails. The dust had settled and still the pigeons were absent. Pauline was alone in the house for the very first time. Nothing was ever the same again after that.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

There Are Three Birthmarks On My Left Leg

Purposely did a lot of repetition. Does it work?


There are three birthmarks on my left leg. They weigh it down, and I walk with my big toe dragging behind me. The nail has worn down to a stub. Sometimes I hear it scrape against gravel, wrinkle my nose as I smell the smoke trailing from the embers that jump from my big toe when the friction gets too rough.

One birthmark looks like a tooth, a jagged molar with a corona. Solar flares fly out of crown. The roots are short and stubby and stubborn. On its side it takes the form of a bald eagle with mangy ruffled feathers. The beak is rooted to the majestic crown of the mangy bald eagle.

There is a welt on my left thigh. It covers my smallest birthmark on my left leg. It’s a subtle stain from blush wine. White Zinfandel bubbles up and returns to its origin as Crljenak Kaštelanski, bloody and bitter. The welt overpowers my smallest birthmark on my left leg and turns my left thigh into a bloody and bitter mess.

Dragged along on my left foot, face down and hidden from the sun, is the speckled birthmark. It is a gentle swoop, an arch that flattens as it crashes into the First metatarsal. Tattooists tremble at its detail. The darkened pigment is cloistered together, and only one speck stands exiled from the group. It stands alone trying to find the sun, but it is dragged along on my left foot, narrowly missing gravel and fading in color and from my memory.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Excerpt - "Middlesex" Jeffrey Eugenides

This novel has been recommended to my by many people. I can think of three off the top of my head, and I'm pretty sure there's a few others who've passed the title along to me. Reading this in such proximity to One Hundred Years of Solitude had me worried. I didn't think I would be able to keep up with another generational novel. Well, sometimes we have to admit that we're wrong. (I could probably do a whole rant about my pride for admitting mistakes. Let's avoid that, for now.)

Anyways, I checked out the novel from a library, and I am frustrated that I cannot underline passages and write notes in the margins. I am extremely tempted to vandalize the book, but dog-earring the corners is as brave as I'm going to get. There was one passage, however, that I could not ignore. Thus, I am posting it here, to share with you, and to cement online for me.

pg. 217

"Emotions, in my experience, aren't covered by single words. I don't believe in 'sadness,' 'joy,' or 'regret.' Maybe the best proof that the language is patriarchal is that it oversimplifies feeling. I'd like to have at my disposal complicated hybrid emotions, Germanic train-car constructions like, say, 'the happiness that attends disaster.' Or: 'the disappointment of sleeping with one's fantasy.' I'd like to show how 'intimations of morality brought on by aging family members' connects with 'the hatred of mirrors that begins in middle age.' I'd like to have a word for 'the sadness inspired by failing restaurants' as well as for 'the excitement of getting a room with a minibar.' I've never had the right words to describe my life, and now that I've entered my story, I need them more than ever. I can't just sit back and watch from a distance anymore. From here on in, everything I'll tell you is colored by the subjective experience of being part of events. Here's where my story splits, divides, undergoes meiosis. Already the world feels heavier, now I'm a part of it. I'm talking about bandages and sopped cotton, the smell of mildew in movie theaters, and of all the lousy cats and their stinking litter boxes, of rain on city streets when the dust comes up and the old Italian men take their folding chairs inside. Up until now it hasn't been my world. Not my America. But here we are, at last.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Love Letters

I had this idea months ago. I'm thinking it was October or November, somewhere around there. The inspiration seems obvious, but in reality, I wasn't really experiencing any relationship turmoil at that time.

I don't know how to feel about the piece, either. When I was writing it, it deviated immensely from what I imagined, but then I started to love where it was going. Now, I'm not too sure. The ending is sort of what I want it to be, but I think it could be done better. Or, maybe not. Hmm.

ANYWAYS.

"Love Letters"

June collapsed onto the coffee table. The ink smudged beneath the palm of her right hand. Her left hand carelessly sent a map gliding to the carpet. There were plenty more maps squashed underneath her chest. She covered Seattle’s metropolitan area, a panoramic of Canada, and a small-scaled reproduction of the Rocky Mountains with red ink winding through the most scenic route to the West.

“I don’t want to go back through cornfields,” June twisted her head to face Eric. Her cheek pressed up against Portland.

“But I’ve never seen Nebraska.”

“You’ve seen cornfields before. Remember Indiana?”

“I didn’t go to the dunes with you guys.”

“Oh.”

They were quiet for a moment.

“It’s just that you always talk about that trip. Running around in the sand drunk or whatever.”

“Stoned.”

“Whatever.”

“Sorry.”

June rested her hand on Eric’s knee. The ink blotted his denim jeans, the dot of red screaming against its new, faded-blue background. June absently stroked the stain with her thumb.

“You know, we’ll talk about this trip so much that all our friend’s are going to be, like, ‘hey, shut up.’ You can exaggerate all the stories. You can say we were shooting up while behind the wheel. I’ll back you up.”

“No one’s going to believe that.”

“I’ll paint on some track marks.”

“Stop it.”

“No, hey, I took that stage makeup class. It’ll look really good.”

“Seriously,” Eric forced June’s hand away from him. “Stop.”

“Hey. What’s wrong?”

“Nothing. It tickles when you do that. It’s actually really annoying.”

“Why didn’t you say anything before?”

“I did say something. I could only take it for what? 30 seconds?”

“No, like. You know. Months ago. The first time I did that.”

Eric shrugged.

The maps scattered off the table as June leaped onto the couch. She sat quietly next to Eric, arching her brows, scrunching her face into a melancholy expression. The focus was to shape her large brown eyes into those of a puppy, or, better yet, a deer. Doe eyes. Owl eyes. Squid eyes.

Eric laughed. He pulled the giant squid over to him, running his hands through her brown hair, fingers ruffling up her bangs, crowning her head, sliding down her spine. Her petite body almost got lost in his embrace, but June reemerged with a flurry of kisses attacking his rusty beard.

They stayed in their mode of childish foreplay for hours. Occasionally a foot or elbow would bump against the coffee table, but no traces of wet ink left prints on their bodies. Suddenly they came to a stop, June’s hands twisted around Eric’s belt and buckle, Eric’s hands trapped under June’s shirt, clasped around her bra.

June sat up, dragging Eric’s lanky arms to his side.

“I couldn’t do it.”

“What?”

“I’m sorry. I tried, but I couldn’t.”

“We do this all the time. Wait. Couldn’t what?”

“I tried to write you love letters. I tried so many times. I couldn’t do it.”

Hesitantly, June stood up, staring at the maps scattered on the table and the floor. It was silent as she studied the ink, noting the bright circles drawn around cities with silly names: Zap, Nimrod, Square Butt. She left the room, went down the hall, into her bedroom. Eric listened to her rummage through drawers and knock books off shelves. She swore loudly as she stubbed her toe. June returned with a stack of letters in hand, tied together with pale blue string.

The pile was three inches thick, a combination of loose-leaf, stiff envelopes, miniature notebook pages, sketchbook paper, and cardstock. The items on bottom were frayed and faded. Most of the paper had dog-eared corners, or small tears from where they were ripped from their binding.

“I couldn’t finish a single one. Some I worked on for days. Look,” June untied the string. It fell lazily to the floor, winding around the border of North and South Dakota. She pulled up the first letter, purple jelly-pen on clementine-scented paper.

“It says, ‘my darling, don’t ever shave. I love the way you smell, even at 3 in the morning when your breath reeks of Chinese take-out. I was watching a movie with Clark Gable in it, and it made me think of you, so I thought I would send you a letter because…’ and you know what? That’s it. I couldn’t think of a reason.”

June tossed the letter aside. She pulled out another one, from the middle this time. It was a small napkin with an orange stain circled. There was an arrow pointing to it, and a label, “Curry hut! Yum!”

“This one just says, “Eric,” with a heart. There’s nothing else. I wanted to be spontaneous or romantic or something. I imagined your mailbox overflowing with these cute reminders. I thought maybe, like, maybe you would start being silly. You’re always so serious now. It’s like, no matter what I do or say, you make me stop. It’s like you’re embarrassed or something. I remember when you used to be proud to have me around. You’d take me to, I don’t know, a museum or something, and you’d be so affectionate. And now you’re concerned about holding my hand in public.”

“What’s this all about, June?”

“I liked you so much. When this all started I couldn’t even believe you noticed me. And now it’s been, like, almost two years? I said I loved you after six months, but I can’t write it on paper, and you know I think there might be something to that.”

June tossed the letters onto Eric’s lap. Without its string, the stack scattered in all directions.

“I’m going on the road trip with Alex.”

Eric thumbed through the letters that had landed on the couch. One managed to exceed three paragraphs. Another only said, “Hey—” It didn’t even have his name. It could have been for anyone.

“Who’s Alex?”

“Some guy. Well, more than some guy. But to you, a guy who lives around the corner.”

“Why?”

“I don’t know. He was at some party. I bumped into him. Literally, almost knocked him over. Said I wasn’t too good with directions. Somehow it segued into the road trip and he was just so enthusiastic. It was like meeting you all over again. So excited, charming. Said he loved the idea, always wanted to go to Seattle, and I was all, “me too!” He wanted to go to Vancouver, and I was like, that’s it. That’s the deal breaker.”

“Because I don’t want to go to Vancouver?”

“Because you never want to go anywhere. Not with me. Not anymore.”

“If you want me to go, I’ll go.”

“No, that’s not the point. It’s not like, I don’t know. It’s not spontaneous. It’s always pulling teeth with you. And I’m sorry. I can’t force it anymore. I tried to force this trip on you, and I tried to force the love letters. It’s a disaster. I’m miserable. With you, I’m miserable.”

“I didn’t want to make you unhappy.”

“Yeah. Maybe. You know, for fun, I tried to write a love letter to Alex. Something sweet. Innocent. Nothing too serious, just wanted to excite those flutters I get when I see him. And you know what? I finished it. It’s like, four pages, I think, and I knocked it out in fifteen minutes. I’m not going to send it. I burned it, actually. But, you know? This is important, I think. And, like, sorry, but I’m not even sorry.”

An aching silence swelled in the room. June stood across from Eric, looking away from him, down at the maps and letters that covered the floor. There were miles between them, entire states, provinces, Pacific regions blotted with red ink. Love letters swirled in the ocean, the air conditioning pulling up the frayed corners and gently sweeping them into currents. They were tattered and torn and crumpled. They drifted for thousands of miles, drifted until they were completely off the map.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

In which Renée references the Usual Suspects

I squeezed my way into the crowded car. Getting caught in rush hour on the Blue Line was never an enjoyable experience. Like me, most of the passengers would be heading far out into the suburbs, keeping the train packed until near the end of the line. I spotted a pair of empty seats, and dove for the one on the aisle. People are usually deterred from snagging the window seat when it’s mate is occupied. They like to avoid the awkward moment of asking a stranger to stand up for them, watching the commuter pull her purse tight to her body as she sucks in her stomach distrustfully, the requester tripping over her before falling heavily into the seat.

I enjoyed my solitude for only a few seconds. A nervous looking businessman stumbled onto the train, narrowly making it past the double doors. He scanned the car and I saw his eyes examine an empty seat next to a homeless man sleeping in back, and then to mine. I quickly moved to the window seat and immediately glued my eyes to the city blurring past.

“Thank you, miss.”

I glanced at him and smiled politely, and then turned back to the window. I had seen the terrain many times before. The peeling billboards and orange graffiti no longer interested me, and the only sights that delighted me these days were the glimpses of scruffy, plaid-wearing men waiting on the Damen platform.

I went to open my shoulder bag, ready to pull out my book and catch up on Humbert Humbert’s fevered road trip with his little Dolly, Lo, Lolita, when I noticed that my range of motion was severely cut. I tried to move my gangly arms gracefully, and found my elbow bumping into the flesh of the man next to me.

“Sorry,” I mumbled, casting another quick glance to the man next to me.

He shook his head and smiled, but said nothing. His teeth were a dull yellow and his lips were chapped. Those teeth were awfully close to me.

For a moment, I recalled articles linked by angry BBWs who had to pay for two seats on an airline because they were too large to fit into one. I would have been forgiving, me being petite and barely taking up an entire seat myself, but then I noticed that his huge torso eclipsing my view of the aisle was none to big at all. I looked for the space in between our plastic seats. All I saw were his thighs. This bastard was willingly taking up half my seat, cozying up to me, a stranger, on the crowded el during rush hour with no other seats to spare.

Even among my favorite people, I am not a touchy-feely person. I glued my face to my book and squirmed in my seat, pressing my body as close as I could to the window, reaching an unflattering angle to avoid my neighbor’s graze.

That’s when the shaking started.

His elbows cast shadows on the pages of my book. They shook frantically and caused the words to bounce and jumble together. I imagined the grey shadows and white pages causing an epileptic sensation. The pages flickered back and forth; grey white grey white grey white. The man had wrapped his arms around his briefcase, now hugged against his chest. The tremor spread to his legs, and then the entire seat trembled with him. I wanted to tie him down. I was trying to devise a way to acquire rope on the train when, to my horror, I felt his elbow drill into my breast.

His face red, he whispered, “sorry.”

He did not stop shaking. I could see him sweating, concentrating hard, and I could only assume that he was desperately trying to make his body come to a standstill. He looked so embarrassed, so helpless.

I decided that he had Parkinson’s disease.

Yes, that was it. It was an unfortunate situation, and neither of us could do anything about it. I tried to relax, press myself closer to the window, and look out at the city as his elbow occasionally touched my boob and we both pretended not to notice.

I considered leaving the train a few times. My first idea was to bolt out of the train when it reached Divisoin, run to the car ahead, and continue my journey. I wasn’t sure if I could make it in time. It would be difficult to climb over my seatmate, especially without being groped in the process. The stops were quick, and I would surely miss the train all together. I thought that maybe I could just leave the train and wait for the next one, but I grew self-conscious. I imagined my neighbor watching me leave, glaring at me as I stood on the platform. He would know that the only reason I got off the train was to get away from him. I, the cold-hearted bitch who couldn’t be sensitive to the needs of a middle-aged man with Parkinson’s.

“Are you on your way to work? School?”

Apparently my neighbor was determined to torture me. I thought we had a silent agreement not to acknowledge each other. I thought my discomfort was obvious. Regardless of his condition, I had no intention to chitchat with a man who kept fondling me with his elbow. I felt his breath on my neck.

“I had an interview.”

“Oh, really? What for? Congratulations.”

I shrugged my shoulders, which caused me to bump into him this time. “Thanks.”

He didn’t continue his interrogation. Finally, he sensed that I was at my breaking point. I turned my head from the window to the map of the Blue Line, mentally crossing off the stations passed. California: check. Logan Square: check. Belmont: check. Occasionally I would catch the man looking at me as I tried to look past him.

I grew anxious. There weren’t many stops left to go, and the excitement started to take over. The businessman and I shook together, our bodies bobbing up and down in perfect synchronization. We were quite the pair.

The car mechanically croaked out, “Harlem,” and I nearly jumped out of my seat. My stop was next. It was perfectly acceptable for passengers to stand by the exists before they reached their station, even if their was a five minute interval between stops. I thrust my book into my bag, knocking elbows with the man, not caring this time. Let him touch me all he wants, I’m getting the hell out of here. As politely as I could, I gestured towards the exit, already halfway on top of the man as I tried to climb over.

When I reached the aisle, he gently touched my arm. “Is this your stop? Thank you.”

I didn’t understand why he was thanking me. Maybe he had a long history of young women abandoning him on trains. Perhaps I made his day, his week, his year, by toughing it out and enduring the entire ride. Suddenly, I was proud of myself. I, the good Samaritan who kindly ignored businessmen suffering from Parkinson’s.

But then, as if in slow motion, the man leaned over slightly and lifted his body off the part of my former seat that he had encroached upon. He rolled his shoulders back and relaxed. The briefcase hung loosely from his arms, his hands grasped firmly about the handle. His feet were planted to the floor. The plastic seat was silent. No more tremors. Not a single twitch.

The bastard had gone Keyser Soze on me!

The train rolled into Cumberland. I stepped onto the platform in a daze. I endured that ride, forty minutes of hell, sympathizing with a man who faked uncontrollable shaking just so he could get free shots at my chest. It shouldn’t have been worth the effort. Why molest an A-Cup when there’s double D’s abound? I trudged to the staircase, thinking about the three showers I would take later that night. On Monday, I’d have to head back downtown. The Blue Line would be packed again and I would most likely have to surrender my seat to yet another pervert preying on my polite social graces.

Fuck it. I’m taking Metra.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

A series of bad luck, concentrated in a few days, inspires this rant

I’ve often battled with the idea of fate. It’s easy to dismiss it as superstition, or worse, as something closely linked to religion. I find it difficult, however, to look at my incredible back luck and brush it off as mere coincidence. I’m usually afraid to tell people that I may believe in some kind of higher power. They interpret it as faith in God; they see me as a spiritual person. Spiritual, I think, is one of the least desired words I’d like ascribed to me.

An ex-boyfriend criticized for reading into things too much. He looked down upon my efforts to find meaning in things. He said I took everything too personally. At first I tried to combat these claims, but now I admit that they are true. But these are not faults in my personality, as he desperately tried to prove. These are characteristics that I embrace. They allow me to be hopeful and optimistic, despite the fact that even the smallest of victories is so rare in my life.

I sound like I suffer immensely, but I suppose this isn’t true. I live in a decent-sized house in a friendly suburban neighborhood; I go to an acclaimed private university; I have a generally supportive family. All the amenities that make me middle-class are at my grasp, and I am thankful for it, but they are not as they appear: Our refrigerator and cupboards are nearly bare; I go to school for free because I can’t afford tuition; my mother is a paranoid schizophrenic and is far removed from my personal affairs.

Sometimes I wonder what I did to deserve such setbacks in my life, but then I assess my personality and my actions, and I think that I might encourage these difficulties. I know that I am selfish, aggressive around my family, and overtly emotional. I am a woman full of faults, and I often play the victim. I claim to hate drama, but I think there is an overwhelming part in my subconscious that thrives on it. This part is a key role to my identity as a human, but more importantly, I think it has its own deeper subconscious that is driven by fate.

Over the years, I have noticed that I continuously fall into cycles. Each time I try to break a cycle, I inadvertently fall into another one. I’m always determined to perform my actions differently, and usually to great success, but nevertheless it seems that I cannot escape the behaviors and relationships that revolve around my life. The most depressing realization I have had is that I don’t think I’m meant to have meaningful relationships. I have not been able to hold onto friendships for more than a few years, and the ones I have managed are cold, robotic formalities relating to the shell of a person I once was. Worse, is when I am surrounded by old friends and I realize that I have long since regarded any aspect of my personality to being in alignment with theirs. The few people I have met, ones where I feel odd connections or strange bursts of fondness, tend to be blocked in extraordinary ways. I still try to make these relationships work. I look at every problem and invent solutions that build from realistic to unfathomable, and no matter how close I am to creating what may be a permanent contact, fate will jump in the way and quickly break the connection, leaving me in a proverbial wasteland full of trash and darkness and fizzling electrical lights.

The easiest excuse for all of this is that, simply, I’m not a likeable person. This is the reasoning I believed in for the majority of my life, but somehow I’ve managed to conjure a skewed sense of self-confidence, and I refuse to accept this theory as truth. I admit that I can be an exhausting person, especially when I am in my judgmental phases, but I am always very kind and supportive of my friends, and on the rare occasion that someone gets close to me, they become one of the most important parts of my life. The truth is, I can be pretty wonderful.

I think that sometimes things just are not meant to be. Fate is a kind and wicked force that pushes me along in life, dangling my hopes and dreams above my nose, flipping a two-headed coin to see if I can actually grasp my aspirations. Sometimes I think that if I fight adolescently, trusting in powers of ambition, honesty, and love, I may be able to defeat what fate has decided for me and take control of my life. Unfortunately, a menacing power that fate unleashes is the ability to turn one cynical and hopeless. I think that my undying optimism, which shines through even in the most bleak of situations, proves that there is still a fighting chance for me.

I am here to disprove the fate I so faithfully believe in.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Ants

Summer 2010. Goal is to write a good short story. Something of quality to be submitted to a lit magazine. I think that with another few revisions Fat Maria can reach that sort of quality, but I feel that the second revision put a juvenile tone on the language used in the piece, and it pains me to re-write every sentence (as well as the ending, which has to be changed for the 4th time.) The other issue is that Fat Maria's genre, magical realism, is too risky for publication. There are a lot of lit magazines that won't have anything to do with it. This new idea is also magical realism, but pulls back on the fablic aspect that over saturates Fat Maria.

So, here's the outline for what I am referring to as "The Ant Story"

1. Move in
2. The moldy traps
3. Invasion
4. Hostility
5. Connection
6. Imaginary Friends / Coping Mechanism
7. The Queen (mother?) and Technology
8. Restlessness
9. Move out

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Swimming

I have ideas swimming in my head.
Novels and screenplays.
Here's some sentences to write 'em down.
(this is for me, but I am sharing with "you")

1. old couple. slightly beyond middle aged, but not elderly. (late 50s, early 60s.) diva daughter. husband sick of wife. cancer. dealin' with it.
2. pregnant woman. exploring her "options." approached by man. one going nowhere, one going somewhere.
3. novel. each chapter different city. woman travels alone w/camera. cuts off contact w/home. (wish this could be an autobiography. one day.)
4. stolen robots. instruments. unwarranted fame. gotta work on this one extensively.
5. location is a house. takes place over decades (70s, 80s, 90s, present...?) about the people who live in it. crazy characters. crazy decorations. perhaps will be linked w/next idea:
6. drifter goes to live with friend. he has O.D.'d . crashes w/roommates anyways. Live in a commune/collective/thing.
7. woman investigated for murder. southern. sassy. bakes pies.

Ok. Have fun stealing these ideas. They all sound horrible. Only 2 are ready to be written. (Both screenplays.)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Moving List

My romanticism inspires me to think about the future. My body aches when I think about the possibilities that lie ahead, and my excitement stirs a visceral passion. I tremble. Currently, my dreams lead me to plan my life as a real human. Real humans need homes.

This is the list of cities I would consider relocating to after college.
I fantasize about them. I stare at photographs of their skylines, and those aches escalate and consume me because all I see is opportunity.

In no order:

The Realistic[s]:
1. San Francisco, CA
2. Vancouver, BC
3. Brooklyn, NY[C]
4. Austin, TX
5. Portland, OR
6. Los Angeles, CA
7. Montreal, QC
8. Washington, DC

The Unobtainable[s]:
1. Paris, FR
2. London, UK

The Last Resort:
1. Chicago, IL
[home]

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Excerpt: Fat Maria

An except from "Fat Maria", the story I wrote for my fiction workshop.
First draft. Critique welcome.

Tameron’s hands were hot. He juggled the pink sparks, tossing them from one hand to the other, faster and faster and faster until they blurred into a cyclone. He shut his eyes tight, the sparks blinding him, and he concentrated on his hands and the heat and ignored the oohs and aahs, but not quite, because there were thirteen oohs and fifteen aahs, which meant that he would make a fair amount of pesos today. He could use the money to buy a new pair of shoes, because his soles had turned black and no matter how many times he scrubbed them, he could not get his boots to shine again, and there was no longer a lake to wash himself, and over the past few months the river had slackened to a steady trickle because the draught had not let up and…

Ooh. Aah. Aaaaaaaaaaah.

Tameron opened his eyes, squinting, and saw a young boy yelling as he batted pink sparks out of his dirty hair, his mother close behind shaking him vigorously, shaking the sparks off of him. Tameron quickly clasped his hands over his mouth, and promptly screamed as his thick lips burned and blistered. The crowd started hissing and a few even stooped down to Tameron’s feet and snatched back their pesos. Tameron’s eyes widened as he watched his earnings slip away, and he sprung to the ground to gather the rest of his coins, jamming them into a small leather pouch full of bright pink powder, when he saw two perfectly shaped legs only inches from his face, so close that he could see the hairs threatening to sprout from beneath the skin.

“Fix the lake.”

Tameron looked up to see those harsh brown eyes. He gasped, and tried to shout in protest, but his lips ached and his tongue fought with his teeth and he could not get out the words, so he dumbly crouched there lusting over slender Ana’s legs.

“I need to swim across.”

Tameron furiously shook his head.

“My stupid sister won’t stop crying about her wedding, so if you don’t do it for me, do it for her.”

Tameron continued to shake his head.

Ana took a step closer, her ankles nearly kissing Tameron’s cheeks. She lifted her skirt and bent her knees and listened to Tameron pant and sputter. Then she quickly stepped away and placed her legs so close together that her thighs touched.

“I expect it to be clear by midnight.”



Friday, March 5, 2010

Humpback Re-Write

HOLY SHIT A REVISION
but it's not that different.
Verbal Seduction submission spring '10 (prob. will not get published.)

The Humpback

The men from the Coast Guard shouted obscenities into megaphones as they tried to shoo away the frenzied crowd. The Humpback looked so lost on the shore, his eyes swollen and reflecting the mass of onlookers strutting in their bikinis and swim trunks. His thick skin was bloated, and algae sprouted from his wrinkles, and a hermit crab scuttled across the fluke as if it were Columbus setting foot upon the New World for the first time. Children laughed and screamed when the helicopter arrived, jabbing their fat fingers towards the thick cords that fell clumsily into the sand. The Coast Guard damped blankets and threw them over the Humpback. His watery eyes shrunk to pinpricks as he began to lift up, up, up into the sky. When the Humpback vanished, the people returned to their beach towels and hot dogs, and the scent of sunscreen overcame the salt and the sea.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Had a very unnerving dream last night. . .

Had a very unnerving dream last night. Now the details are fuzzy, but I remember a man chasing me with a camera. He made this growl, a tick, callous, scratchy noise that grated on my ears and penetrated my bones. I never found out why he was following me, but I knew that he wanted to kill me. I tried to hide in my house. I locked myself in my room, and hid under my bed in pitch black. I became paralyzed. He burst in, making that goddamn grinding sound, and I fought every nerve in my body trying to move. My muscles flexed, tightened, released, tightened, released, tightened tightened tight tight tight, released a scream that transcended my dream and broke through my consciousness and swelled about my apartment. I heard that scream echo through the walls and rattle off my vent. I lay in bed staring into the darkness, listening to my scream fade into silence. I half expected my roommate to rush in, or a tender knock at my door, but there was nothing. It was only me, heart-racing, hands shaking, sweat dripping down my brow, lonely and alone.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Outline

I'm in a fiction workshop class again this semester. My short story will be critiqued at the end of March, but I've been thinking it over since the semester started.

I've lot a lot of my passion and motivation to write since breaking up with my boyfriend. A lot of my inspirational moments came when I was feeling romantic. I've always been an idealist, and being in a relationship elevated my unrealistic, unobtainable dreams for the starry-eyed moments I so desperately crave.

I guess I'm lucky I'm forced to write for class. Otherwise, I have no idea when I'd sit down and start typing again.

Here is the outline for the story I'm planning to write for class. It's vague, and it won't make sense to readers, but I figured I'd share it anyways.

Outline for Fat Maria (working title):

Tar Lake
Magician
Fat Maria's Wedding Laments
Ana & the Youth
Old Man
Rorschach Beach
Youth Exile
Fat Maria's Wedding

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Empty

Untitled

I’m numb.

“I just want you to know, this has nothing to do you with. I just can’t do relationships.”

We were making progress. We were getting better.

“I still care about you a lot.”

I’ve changed my major, I have a new apartment, I was going to start counseling, take anti-depressants.

“I’m not going to eliminate you from my life. I still want to be friends.”

All hollow victories.

I have so many questions. I’m overwhelmed with panic. I can’t control my breathing. Tears are flooding down my cheeks and suddenly my hands are wet. My phone is wet. I speak like a child. Please, please, please. This isn’t fair. Please, please, please.
He keeps going. I’m only processing pieces of it. He’s felt this way for a whileblahblahblahdoesn’twanttohurtmeblahblahblahpleasedon’tblamemyselfblahblahblah…

Is this spur of the moment? We had a fight, but I said I was sorry. He’s just angry. He doesn’t mean it. He couldn’t possibly have planned this out. Do his friends know?

“They said it was an unfortunate situation.”

I wanted to seek out his best friend, grab him by the shoulders, and start shaking him vigorously. Talk you dirty bastard! I’d thrust him against the wall; hear his skull crack. With blood dripping down his temple, I’d push his head into the toilet, ruthlessly screaming while he choked and gurgled. What did he tell you? How long have you known? Talk! and he, wheezing and gasping for air, he’d sputter information: the conversation they had, what he said about me, how he still cared. Is there another woman? He doesn’t know nothin’.

“We can wait until we’re back at school. We can take it slow.”

Yes. Prolong the inevitable until I see him again. It’s been nearly a month. He’ll see me, and he’ll change his mind. He’ll see how much he loves me. I’ll be good, and I won’t pick fights, and he’ll remember how great we are together.

“I’m sorry, we’re just not compatible…”

We have so much fun! We can talk for hours. We like so many of the same things. We can spend days and days together and not get sick of each other. We care about each other. I am comfortable around him, I can tell him anything. I am connected, invested. I am so unbelievably happy! Aren’t you happy?

“. . .”

You said you’d tell me if you weren’t happy.

“. . .”

When did you stop being happy?

“. . .
I’m sorry.”

Please reconsider.

“I’m sorry.”

Please give me another chance.

“I’m sorry.”

Please please please.

“I’m sorry.”

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

New Meixco

It was out in the desert during the winter, on historic route 66, that I learned to fall in love. The four of us were exhausted, and I was curled up in the back seat with my coat thrown over my body like a blanket, my puke-green crochet hat an uncomfortable pillow. We had been driving all day, now trapped somewhere between the twelfth and fifteenth hour, though even a clock couldn’t quite tell me how long it had been, as hours had melted together and the day had been so long that I had no recollection of what time we had left.

There were no lights lining the highway. The occasional headlights from other vehicles signified signs of life, but we were cruising at 85, and I was glad that the company of other drivers only lasted for a mere seconds as we blurred past them.

I was restless, and I could not sleep. I thought it was unusual how bright it was, like the sun was shining in my eyes, but there was no warmth and the car was surrounded by a velvety darkness that sat heavily on my eyelids and tried to coax me to sleep. But I couldn’t sleep. The darkness was half-hearted, the illumination too sincere. I turned my face to the window and pressed my cheek to the cool glass and turned my green eyes to the sky.

O! It was love!

The moon hung in the sky, bright and alert, fondly shining down on desert below. It was so clear, and spread its luminosity with such fervor that not an inch of the sky could escape its intense light. The stars were more than small pinpricks in a deep blue curtain. They were grand, glowing headlights, burning with the same passion of the cheap LCD screens that littered Las Vegas. But they were honest, and twinkled and winked at each other, and twinkled and winked at me, the tiny girl in the car who stared at them with such admiration. I felt my heart breaking because I would not, could not, join them in the vast space so unattainable to us trapped under the clouted atmosphere.

I had an urge to climb into the drivers seat and thrust the wheel to the side, to harshly swerve the car onto the shoulder and scramble out. I wanted to dash out into the desert, to the distant mountains, and lay in the freezing cold staring at the sky, motionless, awestruck, letting the snowflakes cover my body in a thin layer, preparing me for death.

I felt my blood flow richly through my veins. I felt romantic. I thought of my boyfriend back at home, how I wanted to transport him here and make love to him in the desert, in the mountains, under the stars, under the earnest moon. I wanted to press his body to mine and feel his warmth and his irregular heartbeat and synch our fast, hurried breathing together in the endless landscape under the endless sky.

I felt tragic; lonely.

I felt my heart break.