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19 May 2010 @ 09:46 pm
I'd like to preface this piece a bit... It was written for a school assignment during my senior year at Butler. The assignment was to write an essay about writing. For me, someone who writes almost constantly, the most profound thing I could write about was the one thing that was the basis for my inability to write. It's kind of odd, but a piece written for class, and not even a creative writing class, has turned out to be one of my most successful and highly praised pieces of writing ever. And usually that is something I'd be proud of and quick to share. However, I have been wary, thus far, to post this somewhere in a public forum where people I know and people who were involved could read it. I worry about the accuracy, perhaps? And maybe there are a few details that might not be quite right, but in the end, this is my reality. (And yes, if you are familiar, the title is borrowed. There is a reason for that.)

Without further ado - The Writing ScarCollapse )
26 April 2009 @ 09:18 pm
We are predetermined, we are
pork belly, racks of it, set to grill or smoke or cure
A life of training

And it comes to this
Hoof, heel, raised for slaughter raised for
braised for Sunday dinner.
I don't want to die here.

(I am not a poet, but sometimes I like to give it a shot)
17 December 2008 @ 04:18 am
I am from marzipan rabbits on home baked cakes,
Picnics of pickle in the hatchback,
Feeding apple cores to the boorish moor ponies.

I am from Optimus Prime and the Autobots,
Moonwalking across the kitchen floor,
Trash can skateboards and cobblestones.

I am from 'Clean your plate or I'll get the copper stick,'
A war-worn grandmother,
A war-torn city,
A bomb shelter full of puddles and pinafores.

I am from mummies, and mum,
From dinosaurs, honey bees, skeletons in tiny graves,
From sea gulls and sea air and seaside rock.

I am from kendall mint in castles,
Cress and cheese in ferry boats,
The only house in town with a basketball hoop.
25 June 2008 @ 08:36 pm
At twilight
the bats take the sky from the birds,
jerking through the summer air
in all their neurotic glory.

Below them, on the mellow ground,
cows loiter,
rolling cud on their tongues

The hazy evening draws on
in its own slow way,
the moisture of the day finding places to settle,
on low leaves,
and silky spiderwebs
as the blanket of night finds places to settle
on the tops of trees.
29 November 2007 @ 02:23 am
This is a little fic with characters from a project/rp I'm working on called lifeonclark.

stringsCollapse )
04 July 2007 @ 09:01 pm
(This is an excerpt from a short story from my NaNoWriMo project. You've already met these characters when I wrote my first snippet of them last spring. It's also probably got some mistakes, but I think it's more or less in it's final form.)

“Nolan, when are you going to tell your dad?” Ryan sat on the end of the table, kicking his legs where they hung. He watched his chucks as they swung, wondering at the wishy washy brown color they appeared. They were red, but not under the orange glow of the safe light. He’d never liked how that bulb faded the color out of everything, leaving the room a wash of yellows and browns, making the pink tips in his hair invisible.

What he liked about the room was how Nolan acted in here. He was focused and serious, but Ryan could tell he was deliriously happy. In the fumes and chemical smells of the dark room Nolan was more comfortable than anywhere else in the house. His shoulders weren’t so stiff.

“I don’t know, Ry.” The response was automatic and expressionless, but Nolan thought it was better than saying ‘never.’ He turned away from the enlarger, that strange creature of metal and glass, and dropped a thin strip of photo paper into the developer. His eyes didn’t leave the clock for 60 seconds of silence as the image developed. Six squares of an image, each darker than the next, showed edges of lips and hints of eyelashes, but not enough to know what the whole might be.

“How long?” Ryan asked as Nolan plucked out the test strip with tongs and transferred it to the stop bath.

“Looks like about 12 seconds,” he mused quietly, “But it needs more contrast, so a 3 filter I think, so that would be… 26 seconds.”

Ryan nodded and smiled, watching Nolan move on, dropping the strip into the fixer with automatic movements. He tried his best to understand photography, but it wasn’t his thing. The most important things he knew about it were that Nolan was good at it, and it made the other boy happy.

Nolan swished the strip in the water bath for a few seconds then squeegeed it with a well practiced ease before carrying it to the table. He set it down under the enlarger and then flipped the switch on the timer, using the light shining through the lens as a lamp so he could see more clearly. The clean, white light let Ryan see the red design on Nolan’s black shirt and he smiled and scooted a few inches closer. His hand moved slowly, reaching out and stroking back a handful of black hair. Nolan’s response was a soft hum and a faint smile, and he leaned his head into Ryan’s touch for a moment before pulling away. “You’re so distracting, it’s a wonder I ever get anything done,” he chided gently.

The room fell silent again as Nolan found the right filter, loaded it into the enlarger, and carefully set the focus and timer. As the enlarger clicked on Ryan smiled fondly at the negative image that shone down on the fresh 8x10 sheet of coated paper. “I’ve told my parents, you know,” he said quietly.

“You’re a braver soul than I.” Nolan spoke with a sort of understated eloquence as he turned towards the sink and trays again, and Ryan wished he could have seen his face. He simply couldn’t read Nolan on his voice alone; no one could anymore. “Besides, it’s different for you, you know.”

Ryan watched Nolan’s shoulder blades moving underneath the cotton of his shirt as the older boy moved his print in the developer, the sound of the liquid sloshing back and forth almost loud enough to echo in the quiet room. His face, the sharp angle of his nose, was silhouetted slightly as Nolan cocked his head to watch the clock. Ryan was struck, certainly not for the first time, with how handsome Nolan was. “How? How is it different?”

Silence hung in the small space again as Nolan timed himself perfectly, this time with his photo in the stop bath, then on to the fixer. Ryan would sometimes say that all of their conversations happened in increments of one minute or three minutes, with a 30 second intermission. Only when the print was sitting in the bottom of the tub of fixer did Nolan turn around to face Ryan, one hand still behind him to occasionally shake the plastic tray that held his art. “You’ve got you, your sister, your mom and dad.” Nolan answered quietly. They usually spoke in whispers here. Walls were thin. “With me, it’s just me and him, just me and Dad. It’s not the same, I can’t risk…” He shook his head, letting the conversation drop.

“Yeah but Nolan, your dad’s cool. He loves you so much, he supports you in everything else, right? I mean he built you this darkroom, for fuck’s sake.” Nolan’s eyes flashed a warning. He didn’t like swearing much. “Sorry.” Ryan looked sheepish, pausing to compose himself before going on, restating himself. “I just mean, I’m sure there’s nothing to worry about. Your dad’ll love you no matter what.” Ryan smiled reassuringly, as if his argument was obviously the end all on the issue.

With a sigh Nolan turned his back to Ryan again and took the rectangle of paper out of the fixer and into the water bath. He didn’t turn around right away this time. “I know he’ll love me no matter what. I’m not worried about that. I’m worried that he won’t…” now he turned, his dark eyes meeting Ryan’s lighter one’s squarely. “He might not approve of us, of you, of the whole thing. Or he’d think it was his fault, like he did something wrong, didn’t raise me right. And then I’d have to…” He heisted and frowned. “It’s just me and him Ryan, that’s all. It’s not the same. Maybe it would be different if Mom hadn’t— ”

“Don’t.” Ryan cut him off. It was something he always did whenever Nolan started to talk about his mom. He didn’t like the tone his boyfriend’s voice took, or the glaze that settled over his eyes.

“Yeah, But if she’d—”

“I said don’t!.”

Silence, uncomfortable silence, filled the small room. Nolan gently swirled his fingers in the cool water before plunging them under the surface and pulling his photo out, careful to only touch the white edges. He held it precariously but firmly, laying it up against the metal backsplash and using a squeegee to meticulously scrape all the water off of it, both sides. He only just managed to hold onto it and not drop it back into the water as two thin arms snaked around his ribcage and a chin rested between his shoulder blades. “I love you, you know that, right?” Nolan asked softly.

He felt Ryan’s chin rubbing along his spine as the younger boy nodded. “It just does you no good to…”

“I know.” He walked, Ryan shuffling along behind him refusing to detach. It happened often enough that Nolan didn’t mind anymore. He carefully placed the photo down on the table, on top of a stack of paper towels, to dry completely.

“How’d it come out?”

“See for yourself,” Nolan shifted his weight and Ryan peered around him, around his shoulder.

“That’s really good, No-no. It’s beautiful.” He tilted his head, smiling up earnestly.

“Yeah, well, you would say that.” He half turned his body, Ryan fitting into his side, arms still wrapped around him. Nolan rested his chin on Ryan’s head for a moment, a bit turned off by the stiffness of his spikes, missing when his best friend’s hair had been soft, like feathers. Almost shyly he shifted again, turning his body all the way so that he pressed up against Ryan, and found his lips with his own. He kept it brief, soft, their lips brushing against each other barely causing any friction. Ryan leaned in harder, urging Nolan to give him more, but Nolan pulled away. His dark room was safe, but not that safe. Walls were still thin.

Ryan tried not to pout and took a deep breath. “Coffee? That place near my house?”

Nolan smiled, “Sounds good. I’ll drive.”

Ryan’s parents wouldn’t be home for another few hours, and his sister had volleyball on Wednesdays.
30 March 2007 @ 12:38 pm
(This is an excerpt from a paper I wrote for my argument class. It's a letter, written to my mother, addressing the issues of my tattoos.)

Overall, what I really want to let you know is that none of this is trivial to me. My mind goes into details like health, money, and implications on my career and future. And my heart goes into the tattoos themselves. Far from making me a worse person, I feel like my body art has actually brought improvement to my life. This may be as hard a concept to grasp as it is to explain, but I’d like to try. Each of my current tattoos as well as those I’d like in the future have specific and very important meanings to me. My first, the ‘No Division’ tattoo, is an expression of my personal belief system and what’s important to me. I’d like two English lions to celebrate my heritage. I have a whole piece designed using flowers to represent each member of the family. Nothing is simply skin deep when it comes to my body art.

The piece that is the best example of this was done when I visited California this past summer, after you knew about my tattoos, and after you’d told me you didn’t want me getting any new ones. It was a simple addition, a banner with the words “never stop” wrapping around an existing symbol. Getting this tattoo was one of the toughest, and best, decisions I’ve made in my life. The words are simple, and come from the phrase “Make music, never stop” that appeared in several CD booklets of bands my friends from high school were in. Before July of 2004, the phrase meant just that. After July, the whole meaning changed, grew, and became a mantra and a memorial. That summer after we all graduated, my friend Sam, one of the members of these bands, and his girlfriend Jenny, died in a car crash. I never told you. It was in the papers, but maybe you missed it. Unlike when other classmates of mine died, you didn’t wake me when the morning paper came to ask me if I knew them. With Sam, I found out myself, and I never told you about it. I went to his visitation at the church where his band often held concerts, and watched my friends cry, and kept my grief to myself. For over two years, I kept my grief to myself. I struggled with the whole thing, knowing that I wasn’t as close to Sam as others were, and feeling guilty when I cried. I felt like it wasn’t my place to be as upset as I was, like that was reserved for family and best friends.

Mere days after we all got the news about Sam, people were already discussing getting matching memorial tattoos. I immediately wanted to be a part of it, but backed off because I felt like I just wasn’t close enough to the situation. After two years of struggling with the issue, and faced with the fact that due to your wish that I not get any new tattoos until I graduated college I would have even more years waiting and wondering, I took the plunge. On my own I chose the words “never stop” as my personal memorial and waited until I found the right artist for the job. He gave me something simple and beautiful, and it was so important and so worth it, that the needle barely even hurt that time around. When I was done, I felt something in me shift. I felt like finally everything had come to rest and was in balance, and I felt comfortable with myself and my grief, and comfortable with the fact that life went on. When I showed my new tattoo to Duncan, another of my friends who was really close to Sam, he was elated. He said I had as much a right to it as anyone did, and that Sam would be happy. When I got that tattoo it was more than just decoration, it was the closure I needed for one of the most difficult periods of my life.
22 January 2007 @ 03:34 am
I just wrote this for my EN201 class

Journal Entry #1: "Tell Me about Yourself."

Hi there, it’s nice to meet you. My word processor says it is an honor to be making your acquaintance. My cursor got all happy and blinky when I sat down to write. Well… actually, it’s always blinky, isn’t it? My pen got a bit disappointed, though. It’s new, y’see, so it hasn’t gotten the change to do much writing yet. That’s one thing about me, my writing instruments. For the past year or so I’ve written everything, everything, with one pen. It was a chrome fountain pen with Celtic knot carvings in it. I don’t have any Celtic heritage at all, but it was pretty. The day before classes started this semester my nib broke. Needless to say, I freaked out. I literally didn’t own any other pens. And do you know how hard it is to find fountain pens these days, especially on a college student’s budget? Eventually I went to an art supply store and bought an italics pen. It’s just not the same, but it’ll do, for now.

It seems a bit eccentric, I realize, to start this out by talking about my stationary. But the way I see it, it’s like someone talking about their 1969 Hemi ‘Cuda: you can’t help but talk about the things you love. A pen wouldn’t mean so much if it weren’t for the fact that so much was written with it. Over the course of a year I produce enough writing, outside of schoolwork, to fill a five-subject Mead notebook, college ruled pages, of course. I write fiction. Last semester I tried to write a novel in a month (my pen got left out of that venture, actually.) It was a bit of a stretch for me to even try, but I got some good beginnings and ideas and short stories. But I also write non-fiction parading as fiction. I suppose that’s probably a step up from fiction masquerading as non-fiction, but I often feel guilt about it, and also I worry that outside of my own experiences, I don’t have a single worthwhile thing to say. And, like any writer, I constantly agonize over the idea that everything I write is dreadful and trite and cliché. My friends tell me that they really enjoy my work, but I can’t really expect them to say anything else. I’ve had teachers say nice things about my creative writing (my ‘academic’ writing is another story) including one ridiculously gushing review from Dan Barden that was certainly a spirit lifter, but self-doubt is a hell of a force to reckon with.

I don’t believe, by the way, in modesty for modesty’s sake.

I do believe in writing about the things that you know. I write about a few glorious days under the palm trees of Pasadena, of the scent of the pacific, the music of seagulls and street vendors, and the glow of sun-warmed skin. I fill pages with descriptions of sun-scorched earth, sunflower fields, olive groves, the south of Spain. Of how pine trees around a villa near Seville smell exactly the same as those that open up to the shore of a lake in the mountains of Montana. I write about the things surrounding the Grand Canyon, Hopi Indians and Condors with tagged wings and ice cream, sunsets. I write about the journey because some destinations, you just have to see for yourself. I write about the backseats of cars on nighttime drives through the Midwest, loud music and rushing summer winds and useless conversations that teach you more about life than anything purposeful could ever manage. I try to put down on paper what heartbeats feel like when they’re coupled with the low, dulcet tones of a bass guitar, and what thick, steel wound strings feel like under calloused fingers. About lying on the floor next to circa 1973 stereo speakers, fingers drumming on the carpet, foot tapping out a beat, pulse falling into rhythm as you listen to your favorite album on the record player because vinyl just sounds better. About seeing music rather than hearing it.

I’ve tried, but failed, to write about not death, but the gift of lives, and about lessons embedded in my skin in ink.

I write about the Ohio River, about cell phones, rain, iron fences, and about the importance of a bottle of Jack Daniel’s Old number 7 Tennessee Whiskey.

More than anything, I write about growing up in a different world. Yes, a different country, but it’s far more than just geography. When I think back on it, the first nine years of my life that were spent in England, I often wonder if maybe I just imagined it all, or if perhaps it’s just a book I’ve read. I hate having to word it that way because it’s so painfully mundane that it doesn’t even begin to fit it. That’s why I have to try so hard to write about it, because nothing seems to do that world justice. I grew up with Victorian architecture, with a World War II blitz shelter under the playground of my school, with three parks in my backyard. On a clear day (though there weren’t many) I could see the English Channel from my bedroom Window. Seagulls called from our chimneystacks. I spend frequent evenings weaving through legs at the Plymouth Museum, escaping in my little flowery dress from whatever exhibit my dad was opening. I’d sneak down and sit on the floor in the Natural History wing staring at a beehive through Plexiglas and trying to find the queen, the one with the small white dot on her. On weekends we’d go to the moor or to the coast or to the countless castles or historic houses and gardens. I climbed granite outcrops, my brother, my dad, my dog and I, and looked down over miles and miles of wild land. We had ‘English picnics’ in the back of the Nissan and fed our apple cores to the wild ponies that would surround the car. I body surfed in freezing saltwater, clambered along rocky coastlines with skinned knees, feasted in old pirate taverns and harvested shells in wave beaten caves. And when I write about it, it almost seems ridiculous.

I write about things I know because that’s the only way I know how to write, and no matter how much I write about my life, I never seem to run out of things to say. I only ever run out of ink, and sometimes out of steam.
04 August 2006 @ 01:53 am
Where were you last night?
Out setting fires.
Why were you doing that?
There was a riot and I sorta got caught in the mob mentality.
But anyway, how was your weekend?
Pretty drab, I dyed my hands gray.
How were you able to accomplish that?
Tile grout. Gray tile grout. And I think it got into my blood stream.
Ouch, hopefully it's not toxic
I don't think it is. What was the riot for?
Nothing really.
I was just walking the crowded street and all of a sudden ...
somebody jumped on the roof of a car and threw a Molotov cocktail through a store window
Oh dear. What then? Any blood?
No, not till the police showed up.
Why is that car in our lane?
Because I'm driving on the wrong side of the road.

(Authors note: Written in 10th grade, in English class, with the help of one mister Cullen Clark.)
24 June 2006 @ 10:26 pm
(I don't know if I ever posted this in my other journal or not, but it is from one of my early daily writing sessions for creative writing.)

My brother and I share something amazing that no one else can ever touch. Its not about blood. It's not about parentage. It's not about friendly bonds or a singular life changing shared experience. It's not about hobbies or music or pets or a house or about words on a page or pictures on a wall. It's about what's in our heads, images of the past that no one else can ever see.

You see I'm not good with words. I'm not good with description. I fill pages with every empty cliche and when I talk I just babble. I will never in my life accomplish the goal of sharing the wordless beauty of my childhood with someone. With anyone. I can't take people there. No matter what pictures I dig up or how many rapture filled stories I tell, I can't take people to the moor, to the coast, to the castles, to the islands, to the gardens, tot he sand dunes. They can't feel the soft tussocks under their feet or smell the sea air from the channel. That is what my brother has that no one else can ever give me.

He was there, seeing everything through eyes only a year and a half older than mine. In his head he can hear the call of sea gulls, he can feel the wool of sheep on rustic fences, he can see the sun creeping up granite tors. I don't have to tell him anything, I don't have to explain. No one else will ever be able to do that, to close their eyes, to go back with me.

I wish someone else could go back with me. I feel like so much of me is caught up in those early years of my life. I obsess over them, about how nothing else can ever be that beautiful. I don't ever want to leave here, but I always need to be there. and to other people, there is just an image, just an idea. Sometimes, to me, it doesn't feel quite real. I'm sure sometimes that it can't have happened, that I can't have grown up on the other side of the world, I can't have always been by the sea, I can't have fed wild ponies and climbed miniature mountains, I can't have been that happy. And that's what my brother gives me, the reassurance that all of that was real, that it all happened. and no one else will ever be able to give me that.

I'll always miss it for as long as I live. That unreal childhood that is so clear in my mind. I always feel like I should write about it, so I never lose it. But I never can. I try over and over again, but always fail to capture what I need to. But I can turn to my brother. I can say, "Hey, remember looking for pine cones by the reservoir?" And he can say, "you mean the re-serv-i-or?" And that's all it takes. There is no need for words and empty descriptions that can't capture anything. He knows. He gets it. And I couldn't live without that.

Just the knowledge of it, just knowing that he knows it too, feels it, is enough for me.